Johannesburg - South African slow bowler Paul Harris has set aside the next year as the time he finally earns respect as a match-winning spinner and as a limited-overs bowler.
Harris told SuperSport this week that making the World Cup squad is a priority for him this season, which is why he has moved from the Titans to the Highveld Lions for the domestic campaign. The 31-year-old has played just three one-day internationals against Bangladesh and there are a number of contenders for the two spinners' berths expected to be open for February's World Cup in the sub-continent - the names of Johan Botha, Roelof van der Merwe, Imran Tahir, Daryn Smit, Thandi Tshabalala and Faf du Plessis springing to mind.
"The World Cup is a huge focus for me, I'm not getting any younger and, realistically, this is probably my last chance to make it. Previously, the selectors haven't had much to select me by, you can't play just one or two limited-overs games for your franchise and expect to be chosen. It was very frustrating at the Titans and that's why I moved to the Lions. I want to do well in one-day cricket and if I have a great season, then I'll be knocking on the door," Harris said.
Harris will have three SuperSport Series games for the Lions before South Africa go to Dubai to play Pakistan and that will be time in which to work on his action, which he admitted had let him down last season.
"I was a bit off my best last season and there are a few technical issues to work on. But I know the issues to work on, like my front arm, it's stuff Richard Pybus [former Titans coach] and I worked on for years. My action is a work in progress, I don't have a classical action like a Monty Panesar, but I make up for it with guts and determination. I'm just working on getting my action as smooth as possible," Harris said.
"I want to win more games for South Africa. I know I can do the holding role that Graeme Smith likes me to do and one of the successes of the team has been that when the runs begin to flow, Graeme can turn to me to stop it and that allows your Dale Steyns of the world to come in from the other end and knock heads over."
While Harris is one of the toughest customers around in international cricket, a smile and a joke are never far from his lips and the lanky left-armer believes this actually helps his performance.
"I'm never too serious, but I think it helps in tests to be relaxed and chilled," he said.
Harris has not had the most enjoyable start to the pre-season training the national squad have been doing at the High Performance Centre at Pretoria University, having been forced to sit on the sidelines after having six teeth removed due to complications with his wisdom teeth. But he is looking forward to plenty of work as the season progresses.
"I'm approaching the season very slowly, hoping to do well for the Lions first. I have a full month and a bit with them before going to Dubai. And I think I'll play a bigger part in the home tests against India than many people expect. Even here in South Africa, I've done the most bowling against them, the pitches in South Africa are starting to change," Harris said.