at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Is Kyle Abbott the unluckiest cricketer in this country?
There can’t be many players who have taken nine wickets on debut only to be discarded in the way Abbott has in the last 12 months.
Abbott’s unfortunate in that he is a fine bowler in an era when South Africa has some very good ones leading the attack – and a handful of others floating around in domestic cricket too.
However the fact that Abbott cannot make the South African Test squad bemuses me, as does the fact that when national contracts were doled out by Cricket South Africa this week, Abbott’s name was not among the 17 players announced.
Statistics only tell you part of the story with Abbott – 167 wickets in 46 first class matches at an average of 22.01 – but at the age of 26 he has shown great maturity.
He has relished leading the Dolphins attack, across all the formats this season and a large part of their success – play-offs in the Momentum One-day Cup, winners of the RamSlam T20 Challenge and currently second on the Sunfoil Series log – is down to him.
Abbott does just about everything very well.
He bowls up front with the new ball, gets it to shape away from the right-handers, has an accurate bouncer (though he rarely uses it) and when the ball gets soft, he also provides a disciplined line of attack at the stumps.
He’s also a very patient and intelligent player, which is probably why Neil McKenzie recommended him to county team Hampshire – where McKenzie is something of a legend – to take him on board on a one-year contract.
That stint will be an important part of his growth as a cricket.
He has shown how much he relishes leading the Dolphins attack in the last couple of seasons and at Hampshire there will be even more expected of him as their overseas professional.
Before then Abbott will play a key role in the Dolphins’ quest to add to their trophy cabinet in the Sunfoil Series. They’re in Paarl this weekend to play the table-topping Cape Cobras.
It has for Abbott simply been a case of wrong place and wrong time … bar Australia (they seem to have a wealth of fast bowling options at the moment) any other cricket nation, would love to have him in their side.
Perhaps next summer when there’s a bit of rejigging expected to be made to the Test team, Abbott will form part of the selectors plans. I certainly hope so.
Dale Steyn this week tweeted about Abbott: “Good bowler that dude!!” He most certainly is, and Steyn would know. - The Star