KYLE Abbott has played international cricket in all three formats since he was last in England.

But the captain of the 26 year-old’s only previous English club admits he is not surprised at his former teammate’s progress, as he prepares to watch his LV County Championship debut for Hampshire against Gloucestershire at Bristol tomorrow.

“Kyle always had a fabulous amount of ability, he worked incredibly hard at his game,” says John Bachelor, 38, who was vice-captain of Clevedon CC when Abbott starred in the West of England Premier League from 2007-08.

“His work ethic was a noticeable difference with a lot of guys and that was always going to give him every chance of doing well.

“I think it was his dad who said he left South Africa as a boy and came back a man. Looking back now, it’s amazing to think he was only 19/20 when he played for us. He was more like a 25 year-old. “He’s also a smashing bloke. He would do anything for the club, from helping with the juniors to serving behind the bar. Nothing was ever too much trouble.

“He’d been in the country less than 24 hours when he rang me this week, which says it all. We had a good catch-up and he’s left me a couple of tickets on the gate which is perfect as I only live half an hour from the ground!”

Abbott took 73 wickets at 14.5 and scored 1,018 runs at 46.3 during his two seasons at Clevedon, who have signed Andy Caddick for this season.

“I’m chuffed to bits for Kyle, it seems quite strange to have played with someone who has gone on to play Test cricket,” says John.

“We’ll go out for a meal this week and it won’t be the last we see of him this season – Hampshire’s only down the road.”

Danny Briggs has also been added to the team that drew with Worcestershire, as Hampshire take a 13-man squad to Bristol for their second LV County Championship match of the season.

Hampshire (from): Adams, Carberry, Dawson, Vince, Smith, Ervine, Gatting, Wheater, Abbott, Coles, Balcombe, Tomlinson, Briggs.