A tearful ‘right decision’
Abbott chokes up as he ends Proteas career to join county side Hampshire
MUCH like his international career, Kyle Abbott’s final day as a Test cricketer ran through the full range of emotions. There were near misses on the field as he went wicketless, cheers as he celebrated a team win, before he was as choked up by the magnitude of the end of it all, stopping several times to compose himself as he read a prepared statement.
“This is one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make in my cricket career,” the 29 year-old started, adding he had planned on revealing all to the world at the end of the series.
The sudden media revelations this week forced his hand, and Cricket South Africa have responded by terminating his contract, as well as that of Rilee Rossouw, who is following Abbott to Hampshire. Abbott maintained he was at peace now.
“There have been a few evenings where I have gone to sleep wondering if I’ve made the right decisions, but I’ve always woken up knowing that I have,” he said.
As he revealed, the decision to end his international career and join Hampshire on a Kolpak deal was made five months ago, while he was enjoying a stint for Worcestershire.
Indeed, he had contemplated making the leap a year ago, but then thought best to persevere a bit longer.
“At the end of the day, it’s the right decision for me,” he said.
That particular line, that admission that walking away from a career that still had the potential of the Champions Trophy, the 2019 World Cup, countless more Test series of significance, made more personal sense than sticking around, was surprising to those who have followed his trials and tribulations in South African colours.
“I have no regrets at all and I’ve been involved in some unbelievable games and series. I just feel it’s the time in my life when I need to make a career decision. I’m going to be 30 this year and I think this is the right path for me.”
Abbott argued his commitment and patriotism couldn’t be questioned, even as most observers felt somewhat deceived that a decision made months ago had not been publicised.
Proteas coach Russell Domingo, bristling at being misled by Rossouw in particular, admitted he may not have picked players he knew were leaving South African cricket.
“If I wasn’t committed, I would have done this a long time ago,” Abbott said.
“I don’t think anyone can question my commitment to Cricket South Africa. I know the coaching staff have never questioned that, so I don’t see a reason why anyone else should.”
Abbott, who was earmarked to open the bowling for South Africa across all formats for the foreseeable future, has left a big hole in South Africa’s 2017 plans, and Domingo admitted he would have to look elsewhere, and sharpish. For Abbott, there are no such problems. He admitted to playing the last few months with a lot more freedom, safe in the knowledge he was about to write a new chapter in his life.
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: Kyle Abbott won’t play for South Africa again.