South Africa news February 24, 2014

Abbott called up for Cape Town Test


Kyle Abbott, the Dolphins fast bowler who took seven for 29 in his only Test against Pakistan last February, has been called up to the South Africa squad for the Cape Town Test against Australia. Abbott replaces Wayne Parnell, who will not recover from the groin strain he sustained during the second Test in time for the third Test. South Africa's other injury concern, Ryan McLaren, who missed the Port Elizabeth Test with concussion, is fully fit and available for selection.

South Africa have also retained Quinton de Kock as batting cover, even though Alviro Petersen's virus has cleared and have Rory Kleinveldt in the squad. With so much at their disposal, Abbott was taken aback with his inclusion and admitted he will be equally shocked if he makes the starting XI.

"I was surprised when I got the call. I thought with the make up of the side; they are looking for all-rounders," Abbott told ESPNcricinfo. "I've learnt quickly not to expect things. It's quite difficult sometimes because you hear a lot of chatter. I'm not expecting to play. Rory Klienveldt is also in the squad and I understand there is a pecking order. It's just an honour to be involved in the series decider."

Despite Abbott's impressive debut, when he played because of an injury to Jacques Kallis, finishing last season's first-class competition as the top wicket-taker with 49 scalps at 15.36 and this summer's domestic twenty-over tournament second on the charts with 16 wickets at 18.62, Abbott missed out on selection for the World T20 squad and a central contract. He did not let those two snubs get him down.

"I understand they've made cutbacks with the contracts," Abbott said. "I'm still young and I am only going to mature as a cricketer. If I'm not playing for South Africa, I'll still give the Dolphins all my commitment."

The Durban-based franchise have enjoyed one of their best seasons in recent memory, thanks to Abbott's form and the acquisition of Morne van Wyk from the Knights. They won the twenty-over cup - their first non-shared trophy since the franchise system was put in place in the 2004-05 summer - and were beaten in the playoff for the final of the one-day cup.

Abbott said he hasn't made any adjustments to his game and has instead concentrated on fine-tuning what he was already good at: swing. "Myself and Lance (Klusener, the Dolphins coach) have been working on the same things because I don't think you can change things and expect the same results," he said. "I treat every Dolphins game like it's an international game. I just keep things simple so I don't have 10 different things on my mind when I am bowling."

If I do play, I know Newlands is not like Centurion but it is a coastal wicket so it will have something for the seamers. I will just be very patient and make bloody sure batsmen will have to work hard to get a run off me.
Kyle Abbott

Those same things have taken Abbott to the top of the current first-class competition wicket-takers list. He has 22 wickets at 13.09 - including 12 for 125 in the last match the Dolphins played, against the Cobras in Paarl last weekend, in a match where his swing bowling came to the fore. Abbott has a better first-class record at Newlands (16 wickets at 12.43) than Kleinveldt (57 wickets at 27.45) or McLaren (9 wickets at 33.33) and with his form, that may give him the edge in the match.

If he is picked, Abbott already has plan for his approach in the must-win game. "I've watched a lot of the series on television and it's been everything people expected it to be. The only disappointment is that there aren't two more Tests. It's been great entertainment and it's really got me hungry," he said. "If I do play, I know Newlands is not like Centurion but it is a coastal wicket so it will have something for the seamers. I will just be very patient and make bloody sure batsmen will have to work hard to get a run off me. Whatever movement there is through the air, I will find it. That's my skill," he said.

And if he doesn't play in Cape Town, Abbott knows it won't be the end of the world. He has four more rounds of the first-class competition to play in before heading to Hampshire for the English summer. South Africa have also announced fixtures in Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe in the next few months and Abbott may find himself with an opportunity to play in those as well.

"I've signed a county deal which is quite exciting but I have clauses that the county have to release me if I get picked for South Africa," he said. "Hampshire know that if I get a call up, I am on the first plane out. Every franchise cricketer wants to play for their country. That's human. You're always trying to get to higher levels."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Don on February 26, 2014, 21:44 GMT

    Not being South African I have never seen Abbott bowl, but with his record (first class bowling average of 22 versus 32 for Parnell) he is pretty clearly one of South Africa's four best bowlers. And his FC batting average is only marginally behind Parnell's.

    Using Duminy as the new fifth bowling option to step into Kallis' shoes seems the most sensible option. Duminy's test bowling average is better than Tahir's and comparable with Robin Petersen's.

  • sean on February 26, 2014, 0:26 GMT

    Dear S.A selectors, please please please select Abbot. Pretty please with a cherry on top. Keep De Kock and Elgar too and you will have the team to beat all teams for a long time coming. Kind Regards

  • des on February 25, 2014, 22:42 GMT

    @mahjut: So you're dropping Faf from the team? Hmmmm. He's done ok in his test career so far!

  • Dummy4 on February 25, 2014, 21:30 GMT

    Abbotts been bowling so beautifully recently. It would be a sin to play Kleinveldt ahead of him. Clear swop for me. Abbot in, Parnell out. Leave the rest of the team as is. Alviro isnt in form but shouldnt be sidelined permanantly. Answers are here selectors. Read and follow them gentleman.

  • Channan on February 25, 2014, 20:07 GMT

    What is this bull I am hearing about leaving out De Kock. So Parnell cannot play, just replace him and don't fool around with a winning team. In fact, this young guy should be blooded for the future.

  • Rob on February 25, 2014, 17:15 GMT

    Abbott's inclusion again is very welcome, but overdue. How that pie thrower Kleinveldt gets a national contract in front of him is a mystery...

  • Dru on February 25, 2014, 16:15 GMT

    Finally SA's next best bowler behind the 3 in the test side get the call. SA must stop messing around with half baked alrounders and play the best 4 bowlers along with the 7 batters. SA now have 2 spinners in the top 7 and lets face it, SA is not going to win too many games with spinners so get over it and play the best 4 seamers.

  • mahjut on February 25, 2014, 16:12 GMT

    fielding will be more decisive than selection ... anyone who is picked should do a reasonable job - they're all good cricketers.

    A Peterson or QdK (I have my preference but wouldn't balk at either) could have them both and side-line McLaren, which would make sense if you're adding Abbot (seems a good option for Newlands).

    AP, GS, HA, DE, AB, JP, VP, KA, MM, DS (then it's a matter of RM or QdK ... I normally wouldn't have considered Elgar but he's fought his way in and if he's willing to wear a few more on the body and accumulate a half century [first innings preferably] in the process then sign him up - quick!

  • StJohn on February 25, 2014, 13:21 GMT

    Not sure why he hasn't played his 2nd Test already, having taken 9 wickets on debut!? Selectorial weirdness has more impact on cricket than the weather.

  • Dummy4 on February 25, 2014, 12:54 GMT

    I don't understand why Kleinveldt would be ahead of Abbott! In Australia Kleinveldt was frankly all over the shop, and his batting isn't particularly stellar (FC average of 19 isn't bad and he does have a century, but by no means is he an all-rounder!) Abbott was outstanding in his only test and has been excellent in FC cricket as well! He's surely the 'next man' for SA as far as fast bowlers are concerned.

    On a side-note - I think SA would be wise not to try too desperately to find the new Jacques Kallis. I think the example of England (when they were good) is illuminating - when they were trying to find the new Ian Botham they were stuck with a succession of mediocrities and suffered for it. In contrast, after Flintoff retired they sensibly took the approach of having 7 batsmen and 4 bowlers. I think SA should do the same, perhaps with an all seam four man attack, relying on Duminy and Elgar (who can both do a job) for spin support.

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