Abbott’s future still up in the air
THE future of Proteas’ fast bowler Kyle Abbott, pictured, was the subject of incredible speculation yesterday, after an online report suggested that the 29-year-old is set to retire from international cricket, and throw his lot in with English county side, Hampshire.
Abbott, who has finally established himself in the South African Test attack in recent times, after an extended and often frustrating period of patiently waiting on the sidelines, has previously turned out for the coastal English outfit. But the speculation from Cricinfo came as a huge surprise yesterday, given how his stock has risen over the past few months.
A Man of the Match performance against Australia in the second Test in Hobart, which helped seal a third straight series victory Down under for South Africa, was the lanky Empangeni product’s crowning moment in a Test shirt, and he had spoken with optimism of the upcoming assignments for the South African side. According to the report, Abbott agreed to a three-year deal, with the option of a fourth year, a deal which was agreed in principle in October. At that stage, the seam bowler was still down in the ranks of South Africa’s bowling options, with Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander ahead of him.
At that stage, Abbott’s state of mind could have been such that a change of priorities may have held some appeal. But, the latest injury to Steyn, and Abbott’s subsequent form in Australia, changed the dynamics, and it was anticipated that he would play a significant role in South Africa’s 2017 plans.
By all accounts, he has waited too long to now walk away from the responsibility and playing time that he has waited so long for, even with the lure of the British pound considered.
Cricket South Africa (CSA) refused to be immediately drawn into a statement on the matter, and Hampshire have also refused to confirm or deny the report.
Should the move materialise, Abbott’s would surely be the highest profile loss by South African cricket to the Kolpak rule.