What’s the story?
Fast bowler Kyle Abbott, who left South African cricket for a Kolpak deal, has opened up on the difficulties that he faced during his stint with the Proteas. The 29-year old admitted to feeling hard done by the system and shed light into his controversial omission in the semi-final of the 2015 World Cup.
“It's been a tough four years. Things never ran smoothly. A seed was planted early after I made my debut and it took me 11 months to get back into a squad. That was four years ago and I've played 12 Test matches. I'm not saying I deserved to play 50 in those four years but even in ODIs and T20s, I haven't even got to 30 in either of those,” Abbott told East Coast Radio.
On being dropped in favour of Vernon Philander despite putting in decent performances, he revealed, “I was very close to walking away after the 2015 World Cup and even a year later. But I gave it another year because I wanted to play. I felt that would be turning my back (on South African cricket) where now suddenly it would be sour grapes that I was dropped for the semi-final.”
Upon the completion of the Cape Town Test against Sri Lanka earlier this year, Abbott dropped a bombshell by announcing his intention to bid adieu to South Africa and sign a Kolpak deal with English County Hampshire.
The heart of the matter
Abbott was not the only to take the Kolpak route. The likes of Rilee Rossouw and David Wiese also departed from South African shores citing the ramifications of the quota system and the weakening Rand.
Head coach Russell Domingo did not mince any words in expressing his disappointment with the entire scenario. However, Abbott’s case certainly has enough merit. The rigidness of the transformation targets meant that he had to forego his place to Philander in the all-important 2015 World Cup semi-final against New Zealand.
Though he had picked up nine wickets from four matches prior the semi-final clash, Abbott was dropped in order to accommodate a coloured player – Vernon Philander. Despite the latter being a fine bowler in his own right, he had a rather difficult time in the tournament until then with injuries affecting his form.
The Rand has weakened in recent times and the players seem to have accepted the prevailing situation. South Africa, in fact, are just a victory away from becoming the top ranked ODI team. Meanwhile, Abbott is awaiting the start of the 2017 County season (due to begin in April) to get back on the field.
To South Africa’s credit, their domestic structure is pretty robust and continues to produce quality cricketers on a consistent basis. Even though the quota system is ultimately aimed at bringing all demographics into play, the short-term effects cannot be brushed aside.