KYLE Abbott arrives at The Ageas Bowl tomorrow, with Hampshire confident he will be available until September – despite TWO South Africa tours in July.
Hampshire’s new overseas player is expected to meet his new teammates after the opening LV County Championship match against Worcestershire, which is set to end in a draw following the loss of nearly two days to rain.
Abbott, who played in South Africa's last Test against Australia, will add a new dimension to Hampshire’s attack when he makes his Championship debut against Gloucestershire at Bristol on Sunday.
But his availability in July and August is in some doubt. South Africa already have two Tests in Sri Lanka scheduled for July.
And earlier today Cricket Australia announced a quadrangular limited-overs series involving South Africa A, Australia A, India A and the Australian National Performance Squad (NPS).
Abbott and Australia’s Glenn Maxwell could miss the latter stages of Hampshire’s Natwest T20 Blast campaign, as well as the quarter-final stage should they qualify. But first-team coach Dale Benkenstein is hopeful that the overseas duo will still be available to the county following director of cricket Giles White’s discussions with the respective selectors.
“We’ve chatted to Andrew Hudson [Cricket South Africa’s convenor of selectors] who has said that, if everyone is fit, Kyle won’t be involved in the Test tour,” said Benkenstein.
“In the conditions they’ll probably an take extra spinner as well as Philander, Steyn, Morkel and Kleinveldt.
“As for the A tour, Kyle and Glenn are in the same boat. Giles has chatted to the organisations and although it has not been completely finalised, they’re happy that they’re both playing cricket at a good standard here.
“They know what they can do and they won’t find anything new by them playing an A tour. Also it’s better for South African [and Australian] cricket that they’re here, gaining experience in English conditions.”
Meanwhile, Hampshire’ disappointed with the ball on the penultimate day of their opening Championship match against Worcestershire, who closed on 103-1 in reply to the hosts’ 263.
Jimmy Adams and Sean Ervine scored most of Hampshire’s runs between them, hitting fluent half centuries.
Hampshire captain Adams, a double centurion against Worcestershire last season, made 67 (97 balls) before Ervine raced to 93 – his highest Championship score for nearly two years.
Adams, who resumed on 32, hit 11 fours, before chipping to mid-wicket, where he had been put down on 40.
His departure was the first of three wickets in 11 balls for left-armer Jack Shantry (4-68).
Joe Gatting nicked his first ball to first slip, where fellow debutant Tim Kohler-Cadmore held on.
And Will Smith (29) soon went to the same combination as Hampshire slipped to 105-6.
Ervine relished his No.7 role. His highest Championship score since May 2012 included two leg-side sixes against Shantry to go into the nineties.
He also hit ten fours and looked sure to get his eighth Championship hundred until he was last man out, top edging a pull as he attempted his third maximum.
Ervine shared a stand of 93 in 23 overs with Adam Wheater (35), who gave his wicket away, Matt Coles handed a return catch to England's Moeen Ali in the following over but David Balcombe contributed an entertaining 23 before Ervine’s late blast.
Coles and a diving Wheater combined to take the only Worcestershire wicket to fall after Hampshire failed to make the most of the new ball.