Cape Town – A South African legend of county cricket’s
heyday, Peter Kirsten, has urged the reportedly want-away Proteas paceman Kyle
Abbott to put a move to Hampshire on hold for a further year if he can.
Kirsten was reacting to the shock, English-sourced report
that Abbott, 29, is planning to sacrifice his international career shortly for
a lucrative three- or four-year Kolpak deal with Hampshire.
Cricket South Africa have said they plan to meet the agent
of the former Dolphins favourite, who joined the Warriors this season, to
discuss the situation on Wednesday.
But with South Africa ironically playing much cricket in
England over the next few months – Champions Trophy plus all-formats bilateral
combat against them – Kirsten has suggested Abbott review his position and
instead try to cement further his status in the national side; in recent weeks
he has belatedly become a regular feature of the XI.
The now 61-year-old SABC commentator represented Derbyshire during
a golden county era between 1978 to 1982, scoring almost 8,000 runs for them at
an average of a touch under 50.
Almost certain to have made plenty more than his eventual 12
Tests appearances but for the apartheid isolation period, Kirsten told Sport24 on
Tuesday that he sympathised with Abbott’s predicament.
“I think it’s pretty understandable that Kyle is thinking
along these kind of lines. I mean, he got those nine wickets in his very first
Test and then found himself waiting more than a year for another game.
“He was in and out during that whole period when the pace
attack was made up mostly of Dale (Steyn), Vernon (Philander) and Morne Morkel.
“Then there was the incident at the World Cup 2015 semi-final
where it was forced upon him not to play although he’d looked so polished at
the tournament -- these things can niggle at you.
“You can understand where his thought process has been
coming from, and this county deal has clearly loomed quite attractively for him
over the last couple of months – but perhaps just not knowing then that he’d
finally get a protracted run in the team with the Steyn injury.”
Kirsten said Abbott would represent a “major loss” to the
Proteas if he quit.
“It would be very disruptive; both he and the team are in a
good space at present. He has great skill; I don’t think that was ever in much
“There are some (young) fast bowlers around, but few who
could automatically slot in immediately and be known to be effective at the
highest level, like Kyle is.
“Look, there’s that old snag of an exchange rate of R16.80
or so to the pound, which will always be a factor for South African
sports-people. But you know, things are always negotiable and CSA do have that
meeting with his agent looming.
“These things are totally up to the individual … is he able
to feel his place is now properly guaranteed in the South African side, or not?
“The money he’d be earning on an extended Hampshire deal
would be guaranteed, fitness permitting. So it’s a tough one, a really tough
“Remember that he could also still fit in some time playing
Twenty20 leagues around the world, if he wished to. They’d snap him up; he
could add to his income.
“Then again, if he packed it in for the Proteas he’d be
missing not just Test cricket but also tournaments like the Champions Trophy and
more ICC events. I know he really wants to play for his country; it’s just not
Kirsten warned that Abbott might find abandonment of his
international career detrimental from a satisfaction-related point of view.
“I played for Derbyshire at a very different time for the
County Championship. You had true superstars from West Indies, South Africa …
guys from all over the world.
“New Zealand’s John Wright was with me at Derby, Middlesex
had Vince van der Bijl and Wayne Daniel, Nottinghamshire Rice and Hadlee … I
could go on.
“It’s regrettably no longer the case when you play county
cricket that you are constantly surrounded by current international players.
“The Proteas play a lot of cricket in England next year, and
I was discussing this very issue in commentary earlier: if I were him, why not
consider hanging in for another year (playing international cricket)? They’re
saying it will take two years, after all, for the UK to withdraw from Europe
“Could he perhaps delay a move? He’s definitely set for a
protracted run in the national side now, with Dale still out for months with
that shoulder. So my advice would be to try to push things out by a year if he
can; see what happens (in the interim).”
Kirsten has few doubts that Abbott would prosper if he
became a Hampshire player on a full-seasons basis.
“He won’t see them all the time, but he will find plenty of
pitches in England conducive to his type of bowling. He would offer high value
over there, because even if strips don’t fully suit him he has the skills and
know-how to cope.
“He is also capable of making things easier for other
bowlers around him as he is a known pressure-builder … just look at his figures
right now (Abbott had bowled eight overs for nine runs in the Newlands Test
against Sri Lanka as Kirsten spoke – Sport24).
“Let’s hope Cricket South Africa can still sway this matter.”
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