Kyle Abbott says he still gets frustrated sometimes at his inability to break into South Africa’s first-choice XI in Test and One-Day International cricket.
Abbott is still regarded as a fringe player in the 50-over format and even less than that when it comes to Test cricket, especially since the emergence of Kagiso Rabada.
His frustration is understandable considering he was one of South Africa’s standout bowlers at the World Cup, filling in for a injured Vernon Philander, until the semi-final against New Zealand when he was dropped in favour of Philander in a selection that was strongly linked with ‘transformation targets’.
Abbott has, however, managed to play more regular T20I cricket for the Proteas but after taking 7-29 on Test debut in the first innings against Pakistan in February 2013, it is understandable that he still craves to play in the ultimate format of the game. His debut figures are the second best ever for South Africa.
He has been in and out of the national side for a while now and he is not enjoying the experience.
‘That has been the case since my debut. I didn’t go on the next Test series after that, so that’s something I’ve had to deal with,’ Abbot said after South Africa won the ODI series 2-1 against New Zealand in Durban this week.
‘It’s not an easy position to be in but at the end of the day, you’ve got to tick your boxes on the field and let things take care of themselves. It is frustrating at times but there is nothing I can do about it.’
Abbott was not supposed to play in the final ODI, but had to step in for Vernon Philander who missed out due to an infection.
‘As long as I am happy with what I am doing off the field and giving everything to this team, opportunities will eventually come. On the field, maybe I go in search of one [wicket] that I shouldn’t, but I guess I’m human at the end of the day,’ he said.
‘It is a tough situation but I’ve got my head around it over the last two years and learnt to deal with it.’
Rabada has moved past Abbott in the pecking order and although it’s not his fault, it’s difficult to ignore the talents of the young fast bowler who’s done well since making his ODI debut against Bangladesh.
Both are regarded as useful death bowlers in the 50-over format, but Abbott admits it’s not always easy closing out an innings.
‘It’s difficult bowling at the back, it’s not fun sometimes, but when it does come off and you suddenly go for two runs, or you pick up two and you go for three runs, it feels pretty good,’ Abbott said.
‘It’s something I have taken on. There’s been a lot more down than up at the time in the innings but I still think there is something around the corner and a couple of years of hard work and dedicating to those dirty overs in the nets is going to pay off. It might be in the next four or five months.’