Cape Town - An emotional Kyle Abbott sat in front of press at Newlands on Thursday and opened up on his decision to abandon the Proteas and sign a four-year Kolpak deal with English county side Hampshire.
Security, says Abbott, was the main motivating factor.
Since making his Test debut back in 2013 against Pakistan at Centurion, the 29-year-old has featured just 11 times.
He took 9 wickets in that memorable debut yet had to wait over a year for his next Test cap.
That was the start of what has been, up until recently, a largely frustrating journey on the international stage for the Empangeni-born seamer.
"I have felt over the last four years that I’ve never been
far away from being dropped and in the last couple of months it’s actually felt
like if I do, it doesn’t matter," Abbott, who was on the verge of tears, said.
"It’s been really hard playing with that, for
Abbott says he signed the Hampshire deal "around five months ago" and that he had planned to break the news after the current series against Sri Lanka.
Instead, the story was leaked mid-second Test in Cape Town, forcing Abbott to come clean to his team-mates.
As a result, his contract with CSA has been immediately terminated and he will not be considered for the third Test in Johannesburg starting on January 12.
"I don’t want to regret sitting here in 12 months’ time when everyone is fit again, being 30 years-old and I’m wearing a bib. At some point, you’ve got to
make a tough decision," Abbott said.
"It’s four years of security. Playing cricket is a very
insecure environment for anyone. Knowing that I’ve got an income for the next
four years that is going to take me to nearly 34 is quite reassuring.
"I look at
things like a 2019 World Cup. Would I be playing in there? Probably not.
how many Test matches I can probably play in the next two or three years and I’m
not going to get to 50.
"There are a few things that I’ve considered and I’ve
unpacked a lot of things. It’s not far off what I’d be earning at CSA but it's the
security and my future and life after cricket."
Having played for Hampshire in 2014, Abbott hopes that his commitment to the club will also ensure that they look after him beyond his playing days.
Abbott also confirmed that the transformation targets in the national set-up and his controversial omission from the 2015 World Cup semi-final side had nothing to do with his decision.
"Ever since I played professional cricket in South Africa
there has always been a quota system and national targets from young ages," he said.
never used it as an excuse and I’m not going to use it as an excuse now. I need
to pay bills, I need to buy groceries.
"The guys that were ahead of me … how can I argue their
place in the side?
"I can’t be bitter and I won’t be bitter at the end of the
day because I’ve had an opportunity to live out a boyhood dream and I can’t be
upset about that.
incredibly proud of the cap that I wear and 81 will always stay with me as a
Abbott will be joined by Proteas limited over batsman Rilee Rossouw, who has also signed a Kolpak deal, at Hampshire.
Abbott also played in 28 ODIs and 21 T20Is for South Africa.