No rest on Abbott’s mind: ‘Hard team to get in, even harder to stay’

Three ODIs in five days are making Australia’s selectors rotate their pace bowlers against West Indies, but Sean Abbott doesn’t want to hear a word about resting in Canberra on Tuesday because he knows how hard he must fight to get a place in the team.
Abbott produced a starring all-round performance at the SCG, in front of family and friends which he admitted was emotional, as he rescued Australia from 167 for 7 with a career-best 69 then added 3 for 40, plus two catches for good measure.
Abbott, like Scott Boland in the Test set-up, is a priceless squad player for Australia and has become used to carrying drinks. He only made the XI once at last year’s ODI World Cup, in the dead-rubber against Bangladesh when Mitchell Starc was rested, and is realistic about where he is in the pecking order but that doesn’t diminish his drive.

“I don’t want to skip any games,” he said. “Obviously [it’s] a tight turnaround but that’s part of playing cricket for your country at the moment…I don’t want to give up a game. There are a few guys resting tonight like Patty [Cummins] and Starcy, so it’s a hard team to get into and it’s an even harder team to stay [in]. Won’t be giving up my spot for a rest if I can help it.”

Abbott knows that Australia are in an exceptionally strong era of pace bowling, although his batting provides an extra string to his bow if there was ever a desire to balance the one-day side differently.

“I’m pretty realistic,” he said. “I know how talented some of the guys are that have been playing and also the next guys in. I use it as an opportunity to keep trying to get better and if I’m not playing I assume it will help them to get better because I’m pushing them to get better.

“If you aren’t getting picked because guys are playing really well the best you can do is keep going out and performing and keep getting better. I can cop that, if guys are playing really well, that’s fine by me, but I’ll be doing everything I can to get their spot. At the same time, I’m quite realistic that we have a hell of a talented pool of fast bowlers at the moment.”

Abbott’s 69 in Sydney made it back-to-back ODI fifties when he’s had the opportunity to get to the crease following the 54 he hit against India in Indore prior to the World Cup although that came in a heavy defeat. He has been putting extra work into his batting including having sessions with coach Trent Woodhill, who is around the Australia set-up but has also long been used by Abbott on a personal basis.

“Obviously I didn’t play all that many games in the World Cup and that allowed me to go away and train with Alex Carey, Marcus Stoinis, these guys who also missed a few games,” he said. “Had a couple of hits with my good friend and long-time coach Trent Woodhill over the last couple of weeks to just work on a couple of things and it was nice to reap some rewards in a pressure situation.”

He was full of praise for the role of debutant Will Sutherland in their crucial 57-run stand for the eighth wicket, which was the highest of the match. Sutherland’s performance, in which he also claimed 2 for 28, followed the impressive debut of Xavier Bartlett in Melbourne while Jake Fraser-McGurk showed no fear in Sydney as he attacked from the start in what ended as an action-packed five-ball stay.

“I know what sort of leader [Will] is back in the Victoria set-up and how well he’s spoken of down there,” Abbott said. “As soon as we started talking, I knew he was ready for it. We’ve seen four debutants already who have gone about it in different ways but they have jumped on the front foot early and look ready to keep playing. Think there are some long-term options that we’ve seen already.”

Regardless, though, of how many runs Abbott scores it will still be with the ball as to how he judges himself. “It’s a game I’ll remember for a long time,” he said. “I’m chuffed with the runs, but my job is to go out there and take wickets and do the job with the ball.”

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