Patient Abbott removes 'back-up' tag

Kyle Abbott (Getty)
Kyle Abbott (Getty)

Cape Town - It is quite remarkable that Kyle Abbott has played just 9 Tests since making his debut back in February 2013 against Pakistan in Pretoria.

Even more remarkable is that he had to wait a year for his second Test - despite claiming match figures of 9/68 in his first!

Abbott has been on the fringes of the Proteas set-up for over three years, in all three formats. 

He was controversially left out of the 2015 Cricket World Cup semi-final against New Zealand for the returning Vernon Philander despite having picked up nine wickets in just four appearances in the tournament at an average of 14.44. 

While that selection would be remembered for other reasons, it rather aptly summed up Abbott's contribution to the national cause.

Even when playing well, Abbott has been the first to get the chop whenever selectors fancy a change in the bowling department. 

His 28 ODIs is also a modest number given that his debut came in March 2013, but it is on the Test front where Abbott has had a particularly raw deal. 

He has now picked up 34 Test scalps at an average of just 21.47 and he was the pick of the South African bowlers in the second and third Tests of the recently completed Australia series following Dale Steyn's injury in the Perth opener. 

Abbott, finally, is ready to make one of the seam bowling slots in this Test side his own and he will have an opportunity to do just that against Sri Lanka this summer. 

"It’s always nice to see guys like that who have been patient," convenor of selectors Linda Zondi told Sport24.

"Kyle Abbott has been patient. It gives us the hope that the guys who are our back-up players can still have the will to perform and do well for the Proteas.

"We’ve always known that Kyle has never disappointed us. He has always been the first option, but there’s always been a Dale Steyn or a Morne Morkel.

"To see a player like that who wants to do well for the country is amazing."

Zondi always leaves room for flexibility when discussing team selections, but the way he spoke about the seamers is as close as you will get to a confirmation that Abbott, Kagiso Rabada and Philander will do the business in Port Elizabeth on Boxing Day.

"We’re very excited and we’re happy," said Zondi.

"Kyle and Vernon and Kagiso will definitely get a run."

Abbott is no longer a 'back-up' bowler.

He can look forward to the Sri Lanka series knowing that he has proven himself. Now all he has to do is pick up where he left off Down Under. 

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