Ab­bott’s fu­ture still up in the air

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - LUNGANI ZAMA

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.

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