Kyle Abbott got the call at 7.30am yesterday from Andrew Hudson: “From one Kearsney boy to another, I’d like to congratulate you on your call-up to the Proteas Test squad,” the convener of selectors told the delighted pace bowler.
“Obviously I’m thrilled and honoured,” said the 25-year-old from Empangeni.
“I believe my inclusion in the squad throws out a strong message to other franchise cricketers that the doors are not closed to the national team. If you play well enough, often enough, then the doors will eventually open.”
Abbott said he’d taken note of a remark made by former Proteas paceman Friedel de Wet who played one season with the Dolphins last year.
“Friedel said to me: ‘Always give 100percent, but expect nothing in return’.
“That’s basically what I’ve done so I’m doubly delighted to get noticed now,” he said.
Throughout the season, Abbott has attributed much of his success to the fact that his franchise coach, Lance Klusener, had “got inside my head”, helping him with his tactical advice.
Abbott has certainly shown his skills, heart and cricketing intelligence this summer, finishing up as the leading wicket-taker (49) in the Sunfoil Series four-day competition. He also showed his stamina and good conditioning by bowling the second most overs (263.1) of any paceman in the competition (behind Johann Louw).
KZNCU chief executive Jesse Chellan said he was proud of Abbott. “He really deserves his call-up. He’s put in so much hard work this season and has improved significantly.”
Hudson acknowledged this improvement yesterday. “Kyle has done extremely well in the Sunfoil Series this season. He had an outstanding match return of 12/96 against the champion Cape Cobras and finished the series as the leading wicket-taker and with the second best average (15.36) and an economy rate that was substantially under three to the over. He swings the ball nicely and is another player who has earned a call-up through outstanding form at franchise level.”
Hudson made it clear to Abbott that, barring injuries, Rory Kleinveld will replace the injured Morné Morkel in the Test line-up with Abbott chosen as cover. “I’m relishing the chance of spending a few days with the national team. It’ll be a great opportunity to chat to guys like Dale Steyn and (bowling coach) Allan Donald and see how they go about things,” Abbott said.
Assuming that Abbott will not be needed at Centurion on Friday, he will fly back to Durban so he can play for the Dolphins in their Ram Slam T20 Challenge match against the Lions at Kingsmead (6pm). He will then travel down to Cape Town on Sunday for the Dolphins’ clash against the Cobras at Newlands.
Hudson said that another Dolphins’ pace bowler, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, had been considered for selection, but he was still suffering from an ankle injury. “Lonwabo will only be fit for the limited-overs segment of the Pakistan tour,” he said.
Proteas squad: Graeme Smith (capt), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Jacques Kallis, Rory Kleinveldt, Alviro Petersen, Robin Peterson, Vernon Philander, Jacques Rudolph, Dale Steyn - The Star