ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
World Cup 2011
'I pride myself on being flexible' - Colin Ingram
February 1, 2011
In October last year, Colin Ingram became the first South Africa batsman to score a century on ODI debut. Just three months later, on the eve of the World Cup squad selection, critics were calling for his head, saying the 25-year-old had not done enough to earn his place on the plane to the subcontinent.
"I wouldn't say I was nervous [about the squad announcement] but I knew that someone would have to be left out," Ingram told ESPNcricinfo. With the ambiguity surrounding his role in the team, there was every chance that someone could have been Ingram.
Ingram has spent his brief international career yo-yoing up and down the batting order, even though he is a regular No.3 at his franchise, the Warriors. At the national level, that place belongs to one Jacques Kallis. Even though Ingram has been tagged as Kallis' successor in the future, it's the present that's left him in limbo in the batting line-up.
He has played six of his 11 matches batting at No.3, either when Kallis was injured or opening the batting, and scored 268 runs at an average of 44.66, including his two ODI centuries. In five matches batting at No.6, Ingram has managed just 60 runs with a highest score of 27. From that small sample, it's obvious that he is more suited to the No.3 role but, as Graeme Smith made clear in October, for as long as Kallis is part of the national set up, Ingram will have to be content with batting lower down the order, which is where he will find himself during the World Cup.
"I pride myself on being adaptable and flexible as a cricketer so I look forward to batting at No.6," Ingram said. It's that adjustment process that worried commentators, including former Test batsman HD Ackerman, who said that asking Ingram to play a role at No.6 that is totally different to the function he fulfills at No.3, would be unfair.
Ingram doesn't see it that way and believes the move will be easier to fit into than most think. "When you are batting lower down the order, the situation dictates what you have to do, rather than when you are at number three and you can just decide for yourself," he said. "You may have to go and smash a few runs to win a match or you may have to play a supporting role to someone who is doing the smashing or you may have to play a consolidator role."
On the face it, all of the three are jobs Ingram could do, but in reality he has only successfully done it once. Ingram scored an unbeaten for South Africa A against Sri Lanka A in a Tri-Series final in October last year, batting at No.5. South Africa A were chasing 255 to win and Ingram was there when they crossed the line. Ingram was on both South Africa A's tours last year. The first was to Bangladesh in May and Ingram ended the tri-series as the highest South African run-scorer with 220 from five matches at an average of 44.00.
During the Sri Lankan series, he scored 160 runs in five matches at a slightly lower average of 42.50. "CSA did really well to plan those tours because we got a lot of preparation in sub-continental conditions and some of the guys that were part of those A tours are now part of the national team," Ingram said. Morne van Wyk was one of the other players who participated on the A tours and is now part of the World Cup squad.
Despite South Africa taking a relatively inexperienced squad to the World Cup, Ingram feels they have a good chance of going far, because of the bond they share. "There's a good feeling around the squad at the moment and I feel fortunate to be in the team given the environment we are in now. Not being as committed to each other as we are now was perhaps the one shortfalls of our game in the past and it's something we identified and have changed. The guys are all so close."
It's because of the friendships they are building that Ingram said he would not have been disheartened if he was the one left out, instead of David Miller. Fortunately for Ingram, he wasn't.