Abbott gets SA call-up

2013-12-24 00:00

DOLPHINS right-arm fast-medium bowler Kyle Abbott has been recalled to the Protea Test squad ahead of the second Test against India starting at Kingsmead on Boxing Day.

He comes in as back up to Morné Morkel who injured his ankle at the Wanderers last week. The initial outlook was Morkel expected to be out for at least seven to 10 days, making him a doubtful starter for Durban, hence Abbott’s recall.

Abbott has played one Test to date, making an unforgettable debut against Pakistan at Centurion in February this year. Again, he was called in as back up to Morkel and with Jacques Kallis getting injured, he found himself in the team.

If cricket were a fairy-tale, this was a debut that turned into a golden dream. He ripped through the Pakistan first innings, getting 7-29 in 11.4 overs, adding another 2-39 in the second innings to finish with 9-68 in the match, good enough for the man-of-the-match honours.

Then he was put out to pasture and has not played a Test since. Granted, he is up against the Steyns and Philanders of this world, but he appeared to be somewhat of a forgotten hero until resurfacing for the upcoming Test.

He has, in the interim, been putting in the hard yards with the Dolphins, leading the bowling attack in all formats of the game. Last season, he was the leading wicket taker in the Sunfoil Series Four- Day competition, finishing with 49 at 15,36, including 8-45 and 12 wickets in the match against the Cobras in Cape Town, where the Dolphins edged home by 15 runs.

This season, he has grabbed 15 wickets in 11 One-Day cup matches at 22,40 and was a more than useful lower order batsman, recording his highest One-Day score of 45 not out and helping the Dolphins post a competitive total on more than one occasion.

In the four-day competition, when the weather has allowed him to bowl, he currently has eight wickets from three matches at an average of 13. This includes this past weekend when the Dolphins enjoyed their first full four-day clash without interruption against the Lions in Potchefstroom, where he picked up 5-34 in the first innings and finished with 6-46 in the match.

With an intimate knowledge of the Kingsmead wicket, Abbott is a wise choice and has the backing of Dolphins coach Lance Klusener.

“He is quality and it’s a pity he has to stand in line behind the current Protea quicks — Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morkel,” said Klusener. “As a bowler, Kyle is right up there with them and I hope he gets a longer go at Test cricket this time around.

“He is an honest fast bowler, always ready to step up to the mark, give you your overs you want from him and he never lets you down. If he gets a start, hopefully the public will appreciate how good he is and that he is not a one-Test wonder.”

KZN Cricket Union CEO Jesse Chellan was excited that Abbott had been given another opportunity. “If he plays, it will be well deserved. As a union, we are proud of him and playing in front of his home crowd, at his home ground, will surely spur him on to perform well.”

Abbott’s parents are currently in Namibia but will be returning on Christmas night. There are no prizes for guessing where they will be, come 10 am on Boxing Day. They would like no better Christmas present than to see their boy don his green cap, hand it to the umpire and begin another spell of bowling for the Proteas.

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