Sean Abbott of the Sydney Sixers. Photo: Mark KolbeSean Abbott, one of the emerging players who fits selectors’ preference for express pace, says he is eager to build on the taste of international cricket he got last summer.
But he admits he needs to start taking more wickets and, particularly, scoring more runs to demand selectors again consider him.
Abbott, 23, was part of a decorated winter intake at Cricket Australia’s National Cricket Centre in 2011, from which he is one of 11 players to have played for Australia. Two of his peers in that year, Mitch Starc and Josh Hazlewood, have progressed to become first-choice players in the national team.
While Abbott is younger than both – Starc is 25, Hazlewood is 24 – he said a bigger factor in him not yet matching their international achievements was that he had not dominated at first-class level like they had.
“I’m still trying to put good performances on the board in shield cricket, where as they probably did it a lot sooner than what I have,” he said.
“I would’ve liked to have played more games [since debuting for Australia last summer]. Obviously I haven’t put the performances on the board in state cricket to put my hand up for selection, but I’m definitely looking to push my case forward this summer.”
Playing at Sydney Sixers under Brad Haddin has been helpful for Abbott, as the recently retired Test wicketkeeper has been pushing him hard in training, in the hope he will soon get another chance for Australia. The right-armer agreed he could benefit if Australia maintained their preference for bowlers who could trouble opposition batsmen with pace.
“Obviously they’re after guys who can bowl around 140km/h, and if my pace is up there obviously I think I’d be a good chance,” he said. “It’s got to help my cause if I can keep my pace up, and the national selectors are looking at that.”
Abbott’s record with the ball over the past two and a half Sheffield Shield seasons is solid: 57 wickets at an average of 29.02. One thing that has hindered his cause is that he has only one major haul – 6-14 last season against Queensland.
Across Abbott’s past seven shield matches he has not taken more than two wickets in an innings, a stint he conceded had frustrated him because he felt he had bowled well in all but one of those matches.
“It is something that has crossed my mind, because I feel like I’ve been bowling well,” he said. “I think I’ve done well to not let that get to me, about not having taken more five-wicket hauls and more bags of wickets.
“If I can keep walking out onto the park and doing my job, keep getting the ball in the right spot at a good pace, I think my day is not far away. I’ve just got to be ready when that happens.”
Abbott earned selection for NSW as an all-rounder, yet he admitted he had done little to justify that as he has averaged 14.67 in the shield and has only once reached 50.
But he insisted he still wanted to be considered an all-rounder rather than a specialist paceman.
“I’m definitely not prepared to give up the stick yet,” he said.
For that to happen, Abbott said he must start living up to expectations with the bat, from others and also from himself.
“I definitely would’ve liked to have scored more runs up until now, and I’ve had plenty of opportunities to do so,” he said. “I’m putting a lot of work into it. It’s just a matter of going out and getting that first big score, and hopefully going on from there.”
Abbott said he felt ready to return to international cricket.
“I’ve had plenty of experience now. I’ve had a lot of good mentoring from Brad [Haddin], who’s been pushing me along at training,” he said.
“I think if I got the call I’d be ready to go, be confident I could walk out on to the field and do a job for my country.”
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