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Duminy: No guarantees for World Cup success

Cape Town – On Friday, Proteas veteran JP Duminy announced that he will be retiring from ODI cricket at the end of this year’s World Cup in England.

He is not the only one.

Imran Tahir is in the same boat, while it is hard to see Dale Steyn or Hashim Amla playing any 50-over cricket beyond 2019, either. 

It would be poetic if South Africa could end an era that saw them produce such quality players with a World Cup win, but Duminy knows that there are no guarantees. 

With 193 ODIs to his name and this, his third World Cup campaign, he believes that anything that happens before the 10 competing sides set foot in England will not count for a whole lot.

The Proteas are still finalising a few key positions in their World Cup squad, but a 4-0 series lead against Sri Lanka going into Saturday’s fifth and final ODI in Cape Town suggests they are in good touch. 

A look at how Sri Lanka have played their cricket throughout the course of the series, however, suggests that these returns should be digested with a dose of perspective. 

Skipper Faf du Plessis has won over most cricketing critics in these parts, and he will lead a Proteas side that boasts experience, youth, fearlessness and, most importantly, ability in abundance at this year’s showpiece. 

Yet, despite the known qualities of the individuals in the set-up, the Proteas are nowhere near favourites going into the competition. 

That honour seems to be shared between hosts England and Virat Kohli’s India, while the bookies also have Australia ahead of the Proteas following their recent heroics in India.

Kepler Wessels, Hansie Cronje, Shaun Pollock, Graeme Smith, AB de Villiers … they have all set out to create history and come back empty handed. 

Why, then, would it be any different for Du Plessis this time around? 

The Proteas class of 2019 is looking to control only what they can. 

“We are going with a more relaxed feel and it’s not that it’s an easy way out. It’s more that we’re going to give our best … at the end of the day, that’s all we can do,” were Duminy’s words when addressing media at Newlands on Friday ahead of what will be his last ODI in South Africa. 

If history has taught us anything, it is that form and favourites tags count for very little when attempting to predict South Africa’s chances at a World Cup.

There are moments that all of the planning in the world will not be able to prepare them for. Instead, it is about what clicks on the day and what doesn’t. 

“There are no guarantees of what success looks like,” Duminy said.

“We are going there to have fun and give our best whether it’s in our practices, at gym, on the field, individually … but it doesn’t guarantee you anything and that’s the beauty of this tournament.

“You can go as favourites or ranked eighth in the world, but it’s about what you produce on the day and that’s the most important thing.

“If we can produce our best effort every single day then that’s going to give us the best chance.”

Saturday will see the Proteas play their last ODI before they must settle on their 15-man World Cup squad. 

The time for preparation is very nearly over. 

“Yes, these games build towards that, but in the greater scheme of things how much does that matter?” Duminy posed.

“We can lose a series 5-0 going into a World Cup and everyone will say we’ve got no chance, and we could end up winning it.

“There is just no way of knowing what is going to happen … you’ve got to go out there and believe in the team you’re walking out onto the park with.

“It’s not necessarily the amount of cricket you play. I think it’s just the mindset that you’re in. From a mental perspective, I think the team and everybody is in a really good space. That’s the important thing going into a World Cup.”

The 5th ODI at Newlands on Saturday starts at 13:00.

Follow @LloydBurnard on Twitter …

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