I am thankful for the opportunity, says Duminy

December 29th, 2008 - 6:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Melbourne, Dec 29 (IANS) After playing a stellar role to put South Africa on the verge of a historic series win at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), Jean-Paul Duminy is still unsure of his place in the third Test in Sydney. But the youngster has no qualms and is thankful for the opportunity he got. Coming in as a replacement for an injured Ashwell Prince, the left-hander hit the winning runs in South Africa’s unbelievable first Test win in Perth and then batted brilliantly Sunday in the second Test at the MCG to score his maiden Test century that put Proteas in a commanding position.

“If Ashwell is fit to play, I am sure he will play, but I am thankful for the opportunity. I have got a taste of Test cricket now, so I am just looking forward to hopefully my next game,” Duminy was quoted as saying by The Australian.

The 24-year-old’s outstanding form has put the South African selectors in a dilemma. But Duminy appears unfazed.

“I probably came out here thinking I wouldn’t play given I have travelled now for about a year without getting a game, but stranger things have happened in life,” Duminy said.

“Ashwell gets hit the day before the first Test and cracks a (thumb) and there I am in the Test. Ashwell was supposed to have a net to see how he went and unfortunately his (thumb) was still very sore, so I got an opportunity again.”

But with Duminy in an outstanding form, under-pressure opener Neil McKenzie could make way for Prince, with A.B. de Villiers moving up to open the batting.

“It took a while for me to settle in during the first Test, but I think I got going in the second innings well,” Duminy said.

Duminy’s patience and his ability to help his tailenders maintain concentration may force the selectors to retain him in the side.

“Our plan was always to bat as long as possible, to take time out of the game and I think that we did it very well today,” Duminy said.

On the MCG, the South African said: “It is obviously the colosseum of all grounds. There is an unbelievable atmosphere here and to score a Test century on this ground is unbelievable to me. I think my toughest period was probably in the 90s. I took a while to get to 100 purely because I think nerves got the best of me. I mean, at the MCG, second Test match, a chance of scoring a century, so that was probably the most tense moment for me.”

Richie Benaud paid Duminy an accolade of the highest order by comparing him to left-handed great Neil Harvey while fellow commentator Mark Nicholas said he reminded him of a young Brian Lara.

Former Australia captain Mark Taylor termed the innings ‘brilliant’ given the situation the South Africans found themselves in Sunday morning.

“He batted superbly. I can’t remember a chance he gave until an inside edge over the stumps on 130,” Taylor said.

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