Dream debut for South Africa rings true for sleepy Abbott
Agence France-Presse in Centurion, South Africa
When Kyle Abbott's mobile phone rang at his Durban home early last Tuesday morning he did not recognise the number, stopped the call, switched his phone to silent and went back to sleep.
What he did not realise was that the mystery caller was Andrew Hudson, convener of the South African selectors, informing him he needed to get on a flight to Johannesburg to join the squad for the third test against Pakistan at Centurion.
A week later he is a new South African sports hero after taking nine wickets for 68 runs on his test debut, leading his country to a crushing innings and 18-run victory for a 3-0 series sweep over Pakistan.
"When I woke up there was a voice message and I thought I had better phone back quickly," said Abbott, 25.
At that stage he was designated as a back-up player and he was happy just to be welcomed by the national players, "seeing how the No1 team in the world prepare for test matches and how they go about their business", he said.
On Thursday, the day before the test, coach Gary Kirsten told him Jacques Kallis had a minor injury and he might be in the team. Abbott did not get his hopes up too high. "Jacques went for a scan and I thought he would pull through," he said.
But later that afternoon Kirsten told him he would be playing. "I still didn't quite believe it until I was on the bus coming to the ground the next morning," he said.
Out on the field, Abbott said he lived by a motto passed on to him by former South African fast bowler Friedel de Wet. "He told me, 'Always give 100 per cent and expect nothing in return'. I have done. I have gone out there and left nothing on the table."
Vice-captain AB de Villiers described Abbott's performance as amazing. "He didn't show any signs of nerves. He got a few really big wickets for us. He's a captain's dream," De Villiers said.