Gillette T20 INTL Series v Pakistan
Mum's the word behind Abbott's ascent
Returning after a five-year absence, Sean Abbott opens up about his long road back to the top level - and how his mum was reduced to tears on match day
Martin Smith at Perth Stadium
9 November 2019, 12:53 AM AEST
Modern cricketers are surrounded by no shortage of coaches, teammates and support staff to lean on when times are tough, but Sean Abbott turned to a more traditional source of advice when he was at one of the lowest ebbs.
Abbott's triumphant return to Australia’s T20 side on Friday night in Perth, almost five years to the day since his last taste of the top level, was the culmination of a long journey in the international wilderness that has seen him confront - and overcome - no shortage of obstacles.
And as he's faced down all of them, he's had his mum's words in his ears.
"My mum said to me once ... 'the next ball is the first ball of the rest of your career'," Abbott told cricket.com.au after his spell of 2-14 at Perth Stadium led Australia to a 2-0 series win over Pakistan.
"I've been trying not to roll out too many cliches and one-liners, but that one has helped me a little bit.
"I'm over the moon. It's a bit of a cliche but I've dreamt about it for a long time. I lost belief there for a while but it’s good to run out with my mates tonight.
"I think it might sink in tomorrow when I’m down at the beach, but my head's in the clouds a bit at the minute."
In the afterglow of his man-of-the-match performance, Abbott was willing to touch on just a few of the off-field trials he's confronted in the past 18 months; serious illness to family and friends and the mental-health struggles of his long-time teammate, Moises Henriques.
But the full extent of the off- and on-field challenges he's had to face during his journey back to the top are known only by those closest to him, with his mum and step dad chief among them.
"I don’t get to see them a great deal, but they’re my two biggest supporters," he said.
"I know Mum will probably be crying at home. She was crying on the phone earlier today.
"I've got a big family ... and the guys back at home at the Blues, I've got some coaches … I could be here for hours naming them.
"The people who have helped me out and been there for me, they know who they are and I’m really grateful to have those people in my life.
"Hopefully it's the start of something great, to continue what I’ve been doing at the Blues in the last couple of years. Hopefully I get some more opportunities in this team because it’s a bloody good team to be a part of."
And coach Justin Langer gave every indication that despite Australia's depth of fast-bowling riches, Abbott is part of his plans in the lead-up to next year's T20 World Cup.
"We talk about playing a high-energy, high-octane style of play in white-ball cricket," Langer said.
"He’s a great athlete, he's got very, very good numbers and he's also a very, very nice young bloke.
"It's a pretty good combination and he fits nicely into our squad because of that."
Abbott believes his performance on Friday night, where he conceded just 14 runs from his four overs, is just the start of his push for a maiden World Cup appearance.
"I think I’m ready for it," he said.
"I love playing cricket and it’s a dream to play for my country, wear the coat of arms and share these experiences with my mates.
"It’s what I love doing and it's what a lot of people here get enjoyment out of, seeing the Australian team doing well.
"It puts a big smile on my face. It means a lot and it’s a bloody good feeling.
"The World Cup is 12 months away and I’ve got to worry about the next game I play for my country and for the Blues.
"And worry about the next ball."
Just like his mum told him to.
Gillette T20 INTLs v Pakistan
Pakistan squad: Babar Azam (c), Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Musa Khan, Shadab Khan, Usman Qadir.
First T20: No result
Second T20: Australia won by seven wickets
Third T20: Australia won by 10 wickets