Kyle Abbott says he 'owes a lot to SA cricket', denies Proteas interest

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Titans signing Kyle Abbott
Titans signing Kyle Abbott
  • Fast bowler Kyle Abbott has stated that he has no interest in playing for the Proteas at the moment.
  • Abbott returns to South Africa domestic cricket after signing with the Titans.
  • The 33-year-old has been based in England as a Kolpak player since 2017.

Fast bowler Kyle Abbott denies having any interest in playing for the Proteas after signing with the Titans this season.

After playing 11 Tests, 28 ODIs and 21 T20s for his country, Abbott became one of South Africa's most high-profile Kolpak signings when he signed a four-year deal with Hampshire in 2017.

As of 1 January 2021, though, all Kolpak players have had their registration cancelled by the England and Wales Cricket Board with immediate effect as a result of Brexit.

This means that the 33-year-old Abbott is technically available for Proteas selection once more and he will represent the Titans in the One Day Cup in Potchefstroom, which gets underway this weekend. 

"At the moment, [playing for the Proteas] is not in my immediate view," Abbott told reporters at a Titans press conference on Thursday, adding that he will be in South Africa until the end of the season.

"I've had a very tough 2020 as I haven't played a lot of cricket so my objective is to get back to playing professionally. It's hard for me to comment, I'm just trying to get back to that competitive level, which is my main focus."

Abbott has become the first high-profile Kolpak player to return to domestic cricket since the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union.

While Abbott acknowledges that losing the opportunity to go abroad will be massive, he believes that it bodes well for South African cricket.

"The Kolpak situation has definitely closed the doors for a lot of guys, especially players who've played a Test or so here and there," he said.

"I suppose this can only be good for South African cricket to keep the players here and keep the system strong, especially going into next year with more franchises opening. The less watered down the system is the better because we want to see South African cricket in a strong position."

Abbott stated that he felt like he owed a lot to South African cricket after taking the Kolpak deal in January 2017.

"One of my reasons I've come back was that I felt like I still owe a lot to South African cricket, even if it's here at the Titans," he said.

"I've already got stuck in (at the Titans) and started helping the young guys like Thando Ntini. I'm pretty happy and excited to impart some of that knowledge back in the system and hopefully see South African cricket stay strong." 

Signing a Kolpak deal has always been controversial, particularly in South Africa, where a number of Proteas stars have gone on to greener pastures.

Abbott revealed that he received a lot of flak - not only in South Africa but in England - but maintains that it's a decision he doesn't regret.

"I think what people don't realise is that was never an easy decision for any of us, having spoken to some of the Kolpak players," he said.

"From being away from home for six months to catching quite a lot of flak from crowds, a lot of English supporters didn't want us there. There were a lot of things that we needed to navigate when it came to that. We (Kolpak players) felt like outsiders there as we were outsiders in South Africa.

"At the end of the day, it's our jobs. I do understand where the public is coming from, it's an emotional thing, it's a patriotic thing and it's something we take into consideration.

"For myself, it was purely a career decision that I had to make at the time and I don't regret anything I ever did."

Abbott will return to Hampshire in March but this time as an overseas player after making the switch.

He admitted that he never felt uncertain over his Kolpak status due to his transparent relationship with Hampshire.

"The uncertainty of [no] Kolpak didn't bother me, I've got an incredible relationship with Hampshire, very transparent," said Abbott, who still has two years left on his Hampshire contract.

"I always knew that I was going to have a job with them overseas. I've been lucky enough to put in some performances with them over the last three years."

The Titans take on the Dolphins in Saturday's opening One Day Cup encounter at 10:00.

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