Kyle Abbott’s success for the Castle Lager Proteas has been an impressive reflection of the fast bowling reserves in the country and the strength of Cricket South Africa’s High Performance Programme (HPP). Abbott was the chief destroyer for the Proteas alongside world No.1 and No.2 Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander, as the Proteas close in on victory in the third Sunfoil Test against Pakistan at SuperSport Park
“A week ago I wouldn’t have thought that I would be sitting here,” an elated Abbott said at the post-play press conference. “It’s been a special day and a special couple of days with these players. Seeing how the number one team in the world prepares for Test matches, how they go about their business is very professional. The whole structure and the support staff is unbelievable, it has been an unforgettable experience.”
The 25 year-old Abbott was initially called into the Proteas Test squad as cover and was due to fly back to Durban to play for the Sunfoil Dolphins this weekend, but became the eleventh hour replacement for the injured Jacques Kallis. He credits hard work throughout the season for his rise to the top, and says he “left everything on the table” with his performances. He has been a consistent selection for South Africa A in the last two years, and finished as the leading wicket-taker in the Sunfoil four-day series with 49 scalps.
AB de Villiers, the Proteas centurion in the first innings of 409, was equally full of praise for Abbott’s performance, who fitted in comfortably in the Proteas’ vaunted pace attack.
“It was an amazing bowling performance, really consistent,” De Villiers said. “He didn’t show any signs of nerves, not even with the bat in hand, he looked really good as well. It was a good performance all-round, it’s what you expect at Test level, guys hitting the deck hard and landing the ball in a good area more often than not. He found the outside edge which was great, he got a few big wickets for us which were important breakthroughs and hopefully we can see more of the same tomorrow.”
Other HPP bowling graduates to have played for the Castle Lager Test team in the last 18 months include Marchant de Lange- who picked up 7 for 84 on debut- Vernon Philander and Rory Kleinveldt, all of whom have made a smooth transitions from franchise cricket to the Proteas.