Chester-le-Street - Proteas allrounder Dwaine Pretorius has hit back at criticism that the South African domestic system does not produce enough quality depth.
With South Africa eliminated from the 2019 World Cup having lost 5 of their opening 7 matches, questions were raised as to whether the domestic game in the country was adequately equipping players with the tools to excel on the international stage.
In addition to that, there are several Proteas stalwarts reaching the end of their international careers currently.
Imran Tahir and JP Duminy will retire from ODI cricket at the end of the World Cup while it is difficult to see Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn (both 36) continuing for much longer.
Pretorius, now 30, knows all about the toils of domestic cricket and it required years of consistent form at the Lions before he was first given a shot on the international stage back in 2016.
His man-of-the-match return of 3/25 (10) against Sri Lanka in Durham on Friday was an international highlight, but after 21 ODIs and 4 T20Is Pretorius still hasn't knuckled down a permanent spot for the Proteas.
Pretorius' Lions team-mate Rassie van der Dussen, meanwhile, has.
Also 30, Van der Dussen was only given an ODI debut in January after well over 100 caps in both first class and List A cricket.
In that time, Van der Dussen has notched up six half-centuries in just 13 innings for a hugely impressive ODI average of 71.12.
He has also been one of very few success stories for the Proteas at the World Cup, where he has scored 216 runs in five knocks at an average of 54.00.
Van der Dussen, Pretorius argues, is proof that domestic cricket in South Africa remains a tough enough platform to breed international stars.
"There have been a lot of negative things said about it (SA's domestic game) during this World Cup and I find it quite interesting," Pretorius said in Chester-le-Street on Friday.
"If you look at a player like Rassie, he only played first class and franchise cricket until a year ago and he's set the world alight.
"He is a good player and he is going to be a very good player, but he learnt his trade there and he's come here and done well because of what he learnt.
"I think it's important that players sometimes spend a bit of time in that environment to get to know their games. He (Van der Dussen) doesn't look out of his depth at all, because he knows his game, and that's very important.
"Our system is still good."
Pretorius acknowledged that he was not sure what the future state of South African domestic cricket would be given the proposed move from six to 12 franchises that Cricket South Africa (CSA) is looking to enforce as soon as possible.
If the shift does happen, then the obvious concern will be that the overall quality of the product will be diluted even further given that the number of professional teams in the country would double.
Pretorius, though, says he is committed to South Africa regardless.
"There is a T20 World Cup coming and I desperately want to play in another World Cup in 2023," he said.
"I have to try and keep myself strong and my skills to where they should be and hopefully I can carve out a niche for myself as being the most accurate, consistent bowler and then contribute with the bat as well."
Pretorius and the Proteas will next be in action when they take on Australia in Manchester on July 6 in what will be their final match of the 2019 World Cup.
@LloydBurnard is in England covering the 2019 Cricket World Cup for Sport24 ...