Abbott in attacking form

2013-01-31 00:00

KYLE Abbott takes to the field today against the Warriors at Kingsmead in a Sunfoil four-day clash relishing his new-found confidence in leading the Dolphins’ bowling attack.

The former Kearsney College boy, who played SA Schools in 2005 and Coke Week in 2004/05, has stepped up to the plate for the Dolphins this season, none more so than in the four-day format, where he tops the wicket taking standings with an impressive 40 scalps after seven matches.

These have come at an average of 15,12, at an economy rate of 2,78, with three five-wicket hauls in the mix.

He is eight wickets ahead of second-placed Johann Louw of the Cobras, a fact Abbott (25) finds amusing.

“It’s a case of the pupil now showing the master what to do.

“When I was contracted to the Dolphins in the 2009/10 season — after making my debut in 2008/09 — Johann was one of the senior bowlers.

“We immediately struck up a competition to see who would finish the season with the most wickets and continued when he moved to the Cobras.

“We have been level-pegging for most of the season, but after my 8-45 against his team in our last four-day match, he reluctantly conceded defeat, saying I had it wrapped up this season,” said Abbott.

On his debut, against the Warriors in PE, he bagged 5-18 and, in his own words, “it’s taken another four seasons to better that with my eight-for”.

But there has been a turnaround for Abbott this season as he takes wickets regularly, with something in the wickets column after every effort.

This includes the seven he took in the match for the SA Invitation XI side against the touring Pakistan side at Buffalo Park this past weekend.

No matter where he plays, the wickets keep tumbling.

What has been his secret to success? First and foremost, and in hindsight, it’s a deadly mix to ensure success on the cricket field.

He’s a Zululand boy by heart. That means he comes from the same soil as Dolphins coach Lance Klusener, and it goes without saying what his attitude is to the game.

That same spirit has seeped through to Abbott, who said: “Lance has changed my mindset this season.

“He has done nothing to my action but has changed my attitude, focus and outlook to bowling.

“He has made me realise I am a senior bowler and that responsibility has spurred me on this season. I have a job to do and an example to set.”

Attacking the stumps and forcing batsmen to play virtually every ball has brought reward for Abbott this season. However, while he is taking wickets here, there and everywhere, he points out that the standard of pitches around the country has assisted him through the season.

“I am not complaining — it’s time the bowlers got one over the batsmen and at least had a small say in the game — but batting is tough this season.

“Not many centuries have been scored and batsmen are grafting hard for their runs, whether it be 20 or something beyond fifty.

“It does mean we get results, which is what we want in four-day cricket, especially with most of the franchises having former players as coaches who have that competitive spirit.”

As for national selection, said Abbott: “There is no franchise player in the country who does not wish to represent the Proteas. We all do, but my work on the field is what counts. I cannot influence selectors and when I leave the field of play, they must take note if they wish and make the call.

“That’s the best I can do. I give my best, leaving nothing to chance and the rest is in their hands.”

All that remains is his batting. Abbott is a modest lad and harbours the dream of a first-class century.

However, his vital runs at the bottom of the order have often meant the difference between winning and losing for the Dolphins.

“With bat in hand, it’s a century that counts. I’m working on it, though, and often face more balls than I bowl in the nets,” he said.

The Dolphins and Warriors clash starts from 9 am today.

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