South Africa captain Faf du Plessis says jettisoned batsman JP Duminy’s Test career is not over but the left-hander is now coming from a long way back to regain his place.
Duminy was sent home from South Africa’s tour of England in the wake of the tourists’ 340-run series-levelling win at Trent Bridge and at 33, it looks as though he might have played the last of his 46 Tests.
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Du Plessis, who was speaking on the eve of the third Test at The Oval beginning tonight, was asked if Duminy could return to the five-day XI.
"If he wants to … he’s got a long way back," du Plessis said.
"Thenius de Bruyn will be our next in batsman now and then we’ve got Aiden Markram, who’s a young exciting batsman.
"One can never write-off a player.
"(Duminy) will have to decide if he wants to fight his way back into the Test team or if he just wants to focus (on) playing white-ball cricket for South Africa.
"That’s a decision that he would have to make.
"But a player of JP’s quality, if he wanted to come back and put in the performances there’s still a way back for him."
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Duminy played the first Test of the England series at Lord’s and contributed 15 and two with the bat in the 211-run loss.
Those twin failures extended his run of scores without a half-century to eight, stretching back to the first Test against New Zealand in March.
"JP, as I said when he got let out of the team, it was purely from a performance point of view and he was the first to understand that his performances over the last while haven’t been there," du Plessis said.
"And with us having an extra guy in the squad and a youngster in Aiden Markram, it’s just an opportunity for him to learn now and get some valuable information and obviously tap into some of the senior guys in the team and see how we prepare and how we play.
"JP was going to be the next batter after the next batter. So (we) just saw it as a nice opportunity for Aiden to get a huge learning on this tour behind him."
Markram is an uncapped 22-year-old right-hander with five first-class centuries in 31 matches who captained South Africa’s Under-19 side to the World Cup title in 2014.
De Bruyn, 24, has played two Tests, the latest at Lord’s where he scored 48 and one batting at No.6 and No.7 respectively.
Australian fans will remember Duminy’s explosive introduction to Test cricket in 2008 when an unbeaten 50 in Perth and a maiden Test century at the Melbourne Cricket Ground delivered South Africa their first-ever series win in Australia and the hosts their first series loss on home soil in 16 years.
If his Test career is over, Duminy finishes with six centuries, eight half-centuries, a top score of 166 and an average of 32.85.