Vodafone Test Series v India
The rise and fall and rise again of Sean Abbott, the batsman
From a No.11 to a potential Test allrounder in two years, Sean Abbott reflects on his improvement as a batsman ahead of the international summer
15 November 2020, 12:05 PM AEST
Two years ago, Sean Abbott was struggling to find any motivation to take his batting seriously.
Having arrived on the domestic scene as a big-hitting lower order player who was good enough to bat ahead of Mitchell Johnson on his ODI debut, Abbott found himself languishing as low as No.11 for NSW, the one-time bowling allrounder even lumped with nightwatchman duties for the Blues.
The dramatic fall down the order certainly stung and while Abbott never stopped working on his game, he concedes his enthusiasm for batting waned appreciably.
"I don't like losing, so every time I went out there and made a duck or not a big score, it really hurt," he says.
"The work had always been done (but) I'd be lying if I said the motivation was always there.
"When I was asked to be a nightwatchman and batting at nine and 10, you almost just feel like going out there and start slogging so you can get to bowling."
His rise as a batsman since then has been as swift as his fall.
Today, Abbott was asked if he could see himself batting at No.6 or 7 in Australia's Test team this summer, less than a week after his maiden first-class hundred took his batting average for the early rounds of the Marsh Sheffield Shield to 130, second only to Will Pucovski.
While a Test debut this summer would more realistically come as a bowler, it's a measure of how far Abbott's batting has come in two years that he's part of Australia's allrounder conversation at all.
Since making a duck batting at No.10 in a Shield game in November 2018, squeezed in the order behind Trent Copeland and ahead of Nathan Lyon, Abbott has averaged 47 in 20 first-class innings, including five fifties and that memorable hundred last week.
In the previous four years, he'd averaged barely 15 and was dismissed without scoring almost every third time he walked to the crease.
Having once propped up the batting order, he's now a certified allrounder for the Blues, batting at No.7 ahead of four other frontline bowlers, giving them a team balance that has powered them to an unbeaten start to the season.
"I certainly didn't think I'd be batting at seven when (a few years ago) I was going out as nightwatchman and doing Nathan Lyon's job," he said with a smile. "And not very well, I might add.
"It just sort of happened; I worked on my batting, I got better, I got some opportunities back up the order and scored some runs. I'm pretty fortunate that it worked out that way ... they saw the way I was batting at training and they backed me in and believed in my ability to go back up the order.
"I always thought I had hundreds in me at first-class level.
"I'm 28 now; I've had a lot of opportunities with the bat, and I've lost a lot of those. It's just (about) enjoying the competition at bit more and realising that those opportunities don't come around all the time and to make the most of it."
He concedes most of his runs this summer have come on some pretty "docile" pitches against some tiring attacks and believes his best chance of a Test debut against India this summer would come as a bowler who bats at No.8, which would likely require injury to befall one or two of the country's frontline quicks.
But if Australia are confronted during the season with the kind of lifeless pitches that India's batters thrived on two years ago, and selectors decide a radical team shake-up is required, Abbott is ready.
"If there's an opportunity to bat higher up the order and the selectors and Painey think I can do that job, I won't even think twice about it," he said.
"I'd definitely say ... if a bowling spot came up, I'd be more in line for that one as opposed to someone who can bat at six or seven.
"But we'll have to wait and see."
India Tour of Australia 2020-21
Australia Test squad: Tim Paine (c), Sean Abbott, Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Will Pucovski, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade, David Warner
Australia ODI & T20 squad: Aaron Finch (c), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey , Pat Cummins (vc), Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Marnus Labuschagne, Glenn Maxwell, Daniel Sams, Kane Richardson, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa
India Test squad: Virat Kohli (c) (first Test only), Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Rishabh Pant (wk), Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Siraj
India ODI squad: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Shubman Gill, KL Rahul (wk), Sanju Samson (wk), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Mayank Agarwal, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur.
India T20I squad: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul (wicketkeeper), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Sanju Samson (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar, T Natarajan
Dettol ODI Series v India
First ODI: November 27, SCG, 2.40pm AEDT
Second ODI: November 29, SCG, 2.40pm AEDT
Third ODI: December 2, Manuka Oval, 2.40pm AEDT
Dettol T20 INTL Series v India
First T20: December 4, Manuka Oval, 7.10pm AEDT
Second T20: December 6, SCG, 7.10pm AEDT
Third T20: December 8, SCG, 7.10pm AEDT
Australia A v India A, December 6-8, Drummoyne Oval
Australia A v Indians, December 11-13, SCG (day-night)
Vodafone Test Series v India
First Test: December 17-21, Adelaide Oval, 3pm AEDT (day-night)
Second Test: December 26-30, MCG, 10.30am AEDT
Third Test: January 7-11, SCG, 10.30am AEDT
Fourth Test: January 15-19, Gabba, 11am AEDT
*The matches and travel remain subject to any relevant government restrictions or requirements.