JP Duminy attends a press conference at the Riverside Ground, in Chester-le-Street, the UK, June 27 2019. Picture: LINDSEY PARNABY / AFP
JP Duminy attends a press conference at the Riverside Ground, in Chester-le-Street, the UK, June 27 2019. Picture: LINDSEY PARNABY / AFP

Chester-le-Street — Just like he did half a world away almost 11 years ago, JP Duminy stepped up to take responsibility at the Riverside on Thursday.

"It is disappointing, yes; it is not the biggest disappointment," he said about being overlooked for four of SA’s seven games at the World Cup.

"The most disappointing part has been our team performance and I think it would be amiss of me not to mention how disappointed we are particularly letting all our fans down.

"It’s been pretty dismal on our part and we wish we could point to the reason we haven’t performed. We’ve put in a lot of effort in our preparation, our strategy, and going out there with a strong mindset.

"But, unfortunately, we haven’t been able to produce and execute our plans and that’s been the most disappointing part for all of us.

"We want to apologise to the public and the SA fans for letting them down.

"When you represent your country it is always a proud moment and you understand that you represent 50, 60-million people. And when you put in performances like that you almost feel ashamed."

It was not fair on Duminy, considering he has played in not quite half of SA’s calamitous campaign, but someone had to take the bull by the horns.

Like he did at Melbourne in December 2008, when he walked to the crease at 126/4 and batted through the remaining six partnerships to take his team to 459 — a key piece of the puzzle that was SA’s first Test series win in Australia.

His 166 was then unarguably the most important and consequential innings in SA’s history, and it remains the defining moment in the career of a diamond that has never again dazzled like it should have.

And now it is too late: Duminy will take his leave of international cricket after the World Cup, a wretched sign-off to a career of what might have been. SA have endured the worst of their eight fruitless attempts to win the title.

They have won only one of their seven games — beating lowly Afghanistan — and lost five others, including to Bangladesh.

SA play Sri Lanka on Friday in a game that no longer matters to them. It does matter to the Lankans, who should reach the semis if they win and again against West Indies on Monday and India next Saturday.

The Proteas batting has been exposed as unreliable, not least because the pace attack that has served to paper over the cracks for years has been decimated by injury. Worse, despite years of careful planning they have played well below themselves.

But Duminy hinted the team’s biggest problems went beyond matters of batting and bowling. "I’ve always been a big fan of the mental side of the game, so that is an important facet that we need to make sure we cover," he said.

"Are things put in place for us to be mentally fresh and
mentally strong when it comes to the pressure moments of
the game?

"Those are kind of things that we want to reflect on."

"This has been my third World Cup, and coming here [I was] pretty confident that I could put in big performances for the team, and I’ve not been able to do that. I walk away feeling pretty disappointed with that, and I think everybody will have that self-reflection."

Plenty of reflection has been flung at Duminy and his teammates like dung — much of it by former SA players, who seem to have forgotten that they never won a World Cup.