A tear­ful ‘right de­ci­sion’

Ab­bott chokes up as he ends Proteas ca­reer to join county side Hamp­shire

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - LUNGANI ZAMA

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.

PIC­TURE: BACKPAGEPIX

GONE BUT NOT FOR­GOT­TEN: Kyle Ab­bott won’t play for South Africa again.

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