Kyle Abbott (left) and Faf du Plessis    Getty Images
Kyle Abbott (left) and Faf du Plessis Getty Images

Earlier in the day, Kyle Abbott and Rilee Rossouw had dropped bombshells when they announced retirements from international cricket. Both men had signed up Kolpak contracts with Hampshire, Abbott for four years and Rossouw for three. Abbott s retirement came as a surprise, for it came in the midst of a series. Abbott will miss the final Test of the ongoing three-match series against Sri Lanka, at New Wanderers, Johannesburg. Abbott and Rossouw join Stiaan van Zyl, Simon Harmer, and Hardus Viljoen, all of whom have played Test cricket for South Africa in the past two years and have signed up Kolpak contracts in recent past.

According to AFP reports, South Africa captain Faf du Plessis was clearly agitated by the twin announcements. He suggested Cricket South Africa s racial quota-system (one that ensures a minimum of six coloured cricketers in the side) as one of the factors behind the talent drain. Du Plessis had also added that opportunity , money and other factors could have been reasons as well. What Kyle’s reason is I m not sure, but every single reason that is causing players to leave is a concern. We need to look at every one of them, he added. We must make sure something like this doesn’t happen again … These players are too valuable and too important for us to sit back and say, these things happen and other players will take their place.

It must be noted here that Abbott himself had broken down during his announcement, which was probably a reflection of the conflict of emotions he was going through. However, his tone had been clear: It s [the contract is] four years of security. I don t want to sit in 12 months time when everyone is fit, wearing a [reserve player’s] bib again.

Abbott has reasons to complain, for despite taking 39 wickets at 21.70, he has got to play a mere 10 Tests in a four-year-long career. It had started from the beginning: despite taking 7 for 29 and 2 for 39 on his Test debut, he played his next Test after more than a year, the one after that nine months later, followed by another 11-month gap before he got his fourth Test. In other words, the first 34 months of his career accounted for a mere 3 Tests.