Two SA cricketing comets set to blaze in Bloem

12 October 2017 - 06:55 By Telford Vice
A file photo of JP Duminy and AB de Villiers of South Africa at the crease.
A file photo of JP Duminy and AB de Villiers of South Africa at the crease.
Image: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

Two of South African cricket's brightest comets will come around again on Thursday. Or are they going?

One was last seen in a South Africa shirt in June, the other in July. Neither would have picked a meaningless game at the country's most unlovely major ground for their return.

But it is what it is, and AB de Villiers and JP Duminy are part of the SA Invitation XI who will play a 50-over match against the touring Bangladeshis at Bloemfontein's oval, where unadorned concrete as grey as death itself crumbles gracelessly all around and the pitch is about as interesting as dandruff.

The fact that South Africa's squad for the one-day series against Bangladesh, which starts in Kimberley on Sunday, was announced more than a week ago tells us all we need to know about the lack of importance of Thursday's match. If the game held any relevance for the national selectors, who have not yet had the chance to see South Africa's players in one-day action this season, they would have waited until it was over to pick the squad.

This match's only significance is to give Bangladesh the chance to attune themselves to white-ball cricket in South African conditions.

But, for De Villiers and Duminy, the game looms larger than it has a right to.

It will be De Villiers' first game since the third T20 against England in Cardiff in June, the Titans' first-class match against the Warriors in Benoni at the weekend excepted.

Duminy last played at any significant level in the first Test against England at Lord's in July, which was followed in September by his retirement from Test and first-class cricket.

For De Villiers, who has chosen not to play in South Africa's last 17 Tests, this is a chance to remind himself and the public what it means to be part of a South Africa team ahead of his anticipated comeback in the format against India in January.

Duminy will want to underline his white-ball worth now that he has given up a third of his international involvement.

Like comets, players come and go. Even the best and brightest, like De Villiers and Duminy.

They came a long time ago. Might they go in a blaze of glory?