JP's meteoric rise
If ever a player has seen his stock rise dramatically in a short space of time then look no further than Jean-Paul Duminy.
Last Updated: 26/05/09 3:17pm
If ever a player has witnessed his stock rise dramatically in a short space of time then look no further than Jean-Paul Duminy.
The 25-year-old has set the cricket world alight ever since his Test debut against Australia five months ago, despite his international induction coming almost five years earlier.
Now, with the ICC World Twenty20 looming, he stands a good chance of helping South Africa to their biggest ever global prize in history - their only previous win came at the ICC Knock-out (now Champions Trophy) in 1998.
A diminutive figure, Duminy has always been an extraordinary athlete, whether it be with the bat, ball or in the field.
He was always earmarked for stardom, even before he stepped onto the Newlands field in the colours of Western Province during the 2001/02 season.
At the tender age of 18, though, many critics still raised questions over his ability to command a regular place in his provincial side, but Duminy replied the next year, starting with a composed 116 in the second youth Test during South Africa's under-19 tour of England.
He followed that form up by averaging more than 70 in the 2003/04 season, prompting a one-day call-up by the Proteas, followed by a debut against Sri Lanka.
However, he failed to fire scoring a total of 29 in five outings and that spelt the end of his first stint in the green and gold.
The Strandfontein-born Duminy then returned to domestic cricket, where he was to learn more about his trade and more success with his province led to a recall two years later.
This time, he was here to stay and 10 ODIs later, he was handed his first Test call-up on a tour to Pakistan, but South Africa's settled batting order meant he had to wait his turn.
And that turn arrived almost 12 months later when, after being named in the squad to tour Australia, he was suddenly thrust into the mix in the first match in Perth after an injury to vice-captain Ashwell Prince.
He was out for one in the first innings, but hit back with a half-century in the next innings to help the Proteas win the Test and then hit a match-winning 166 in the second game to guide his country to a first-ever series victory Down Under.
"It's incredible," his captain Graeme Smith said at the time.
"He's travelled with us for a period of time now, he's watched so many Test matches with us over the last year and a half from the sidelines, probably gaining a bit of experience, seeing what it's all about.
"A guy at this stage of his career, an innings like that can only really do wonders for him as a person."
That cemented his place in the side and he has now gone on to play six Test matches, all at the expense of Prince.
Duminy was also the name on every cricket fan's lips after that and his value in world cricket was illustrated by being one of the "top three picks" ahead of the second Indian Premier League (IPL) auction.
He eventually sold for US 950,000 - only Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff cost more - and featured prominently for his Mumbai Indians franchise in the tournament itself, finishing top of the batting averages in his team and was also second on the bowling list, despite an early exit.
One man who is not surprised by the way Duminy's career has taken off is national coach Mickey Arthur.
He said: "JP is a three-in-one player who has the ability to score very quickly, is a brilliant fielder and a useful bowler.
"We always had a plan for him, and that's why we took him into the team and kept him there. Now, he is getting the fruits of all the hard labour."
And playing in a team so rich in batting talent with the likes of Smith, Herschelle Gibbs, AB de Villiers, Jacques Kallis, Mark Boucher and Albie Morkel, the crafty left-hander is certain to give South Africa one of their best chances in recent years to win a world tournament.