World Cup spots up for grabs

Proteas celebrate... (Gallo Images)
Proteas celebrate... (Gallo Images)

Pretoria - Former Proteas captain Graeme Smith believes there are still spots up for grabs in South Africa's one-day squad at next year's cricket World Cup.

"It's possible for anyone to get into that Proteas team," Smith said in Centurion on Tuesday at the launch of the domestic One-Day Cup season.

"If you have a good season, you set the tone for selectors to look at you, and for fans to talk about you."

The World Cup will be held in Australia and New Zealand in February, and while the Proteas were taking a 15-man ODI squad on a pre-World Cup tour of both New Zealand and Australia in the next month, there could be one or two surprise inclusions in the final squad for the showpiece ICC event.

Smith, himself, was a late inclusion in the Proteas world cup squad on home soil in 2003, after being brought in as a replacement for the injured Jonty Rhodes.

Cricket SA CEO Haroon Lorgat echoed the sentiments of Smith.

"This year is about the World Cup, and 50-over cricket," said Lorgat.

"There's no question in my mind, that as this season starts, players on the fringe of selection, can make huge progress, and there's always a space available."

Smith, meanwhile, said he would always be willing to advise any player looking for help in the Proteas side.

"The guys know I'm always just a phone call away," he said.

"I still have a good relationship with all of them.

"I was actually on a text with AB (de Villiers) last night.

"If someone needs some help or advice, I'm always available."

One player who could well be on the fringe of selection was Warriors captain Colin Ingram.

The left-handed, top order batsman played his last of 31 ODIs for the Proteas in Dubai against Pakistan in November last year.

Ingram made just four runs opening the batting with Smith in the second ODI of the five-match series, which South Africa lost by 66 runs.

He played no further part in the series which South Africa went on to win 4-1.

While Ingram would love to be a part of the Proteas' World Cup squad, the 29-year-old said it was important to put in the hard work first to be in the running for selection.

"It's always a focus of any player to represent your country and move up the ranks," said Ingram.

"At the moment, it's just about putting in consistent performances for the Proteas.

"Captaining the (Warriors) side is the main focus."

Ingram, however, was confident he could begin to pile on the runs for the Warriors.

"I just need to keep improving my game and take responsibility. If my game grows to a level where the guys feel I'm ready to go back (into the Proteas team), I would love to.

"I just need to put runs on the board, and make sure my focus is right. And that's about putting your team in a position to win games."

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