Marsh One-Day Cup 2021
UK stint a risk worth taking as World Cup looms
Despite concerns about his mental and physical workload and the health situation in England, Sean Abbott has his eyes on a World Cup spot
9 April 2021, 10:31 AM AEST
With his World Cup spot on the line, paceman Sean Abbott says he's willing to risk another heavy playing workload in the UK this year to keep his name in front of Australian selectors.
Abbott effectively fell through the cracks when Australia's Test campaign of South Africa was called off in February, with the right-armer missing a chance to push for a Test debut against the Proteas and also unable to show his T20 wares on the tour of New Zealand that ran concurrently.
With the likes of Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith impressing in that T20 series against the Black Caps, the pace-bowling selection squeeze is on for players like Abbott ahead of this year's T20 World Cup in India.
Richardson and Meredith will get another chance to showcase their skills at the upcoming IPL alongside other pacemen like Kane Richardson, AJ Tye and Daniel Sams, meaning Abbott risked falling further down the selection pecking order due to a lack of cricket in the off-season.
So despite nearing the end of a gruelling summer campaign that effectively began in late August, Abbott has taken up the chance to play for Surrey in this year's T20 Blast in England, which will take him away from friends and family for a further three months.
Despite the heavy workload, relative health risks of travelling to the UK and the requirement to quarantine upon his return home, Abbott says the chance to push his case for a World Cup spot was too good to pass up.
"There's definitely been tough days (this summer) rolling out of bed and trying to work out where you are and what you're up to that day," the NSW allrounder said ahead of Sunday's Marsh One-Day Cup final against WA in Sydney.
"It's been a long season and it's been tough being in bubbles, being away from home a lot and not being sure at lot of the time with plans changing and last-minute scheduling and 'are we flying here or there?'.
"(Going to England) was certainly something we had to talk about seriously (as a family), and then obviously the risks with COVID.
"But also, it's a World Cup year. I missed out on that trip to New Zealand having been selected in the South African squad and with a lot of guys playing really good cricket at the minute, there's a lot of competition for those spots for the tours at the back end of the calendar year.
"So (it was about) weighing up the risks and time away from home with going over and trying to improve and trying to put my hand up for those spots at the end of the year.
"It's another heavy workload, to be away for another 8-10 weeks, with quarantine back home on the back of that. It was certainly something that was spoken about with (girlfriend) Brier and my family.
"But that was the risk I was willing to take given the year we've got ahead."
With Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc seemingly penned in as two of three fast bowlers in Australia's best XI for the World Cup, Abbott is battling the two Richardsons, Meredith, Sams, Tye, Josh Hazlewood and Jason Behrendorff for the other pace spots.
Competition for places is expected to heat up later in the year for Australia's proposed white-ball tours of the West Indies and Bangladesh, after which selectors are expected to finalise their World Cup squad.
Having been below his best in the white-ball games against India at the start of the summer, Abbott concedes it was frustrating that he wasn't able to be picked for the NZ tour once the South African campaign was called off.
Those in the NZ touring party had already started pre-departure biosecurity protocols before the decision was made on the SA tour, meaning those in the Test squad couldn't be rushed across the Tasman for the T20 campaign.
"I was pretty keen to perform well for my country (after) I didn't feel like I performed as well as I would have liked against India," he said.
"It would have been nice to get bridged back into the New Zealand tour, obviously pending selection, but that's the way it goes and that's the climate we were living in at the time."
Abbott is confident he will return for Sunday's Marsh Cup final against a star-studded WA side having missed the past three weeks after he split the webbing between the two middle fingers on his bowling hand.
The 29-year-old says he is "absolutely fine" when batting and bowling but will undergo a fielding fitness test on Friday and wear a specially made foam ring over the injury to protect himself in the field.
Having won a second KFC BBL title with the Sixers earlier this season, Abbott has a chance to complete a rare treble of titles if NSW can win the Marsh Cup against Marsh Sheffield Shield finals to finish the season.
"Some people never get to play in finals, they might get to play one or two across their career, and we're playing three in one year," he said.
"It's definitely in the back of my mind and it'd great to accomplish and do. But we're coming up against a pretty awesome WA team on Sunday and a pretty red-hot Queensland team in the (Shield) final.
"It'd be nice, but there's a couple of massive hurdles to overcome and some big games before we start thinking about that."
2021 Marsh Cup Final
NSW Blues v Western Australia at Bankstown Oval, Sunday April 11, 9.30am AEST
NSW squad: Kurtis Patterson (c), Sean Abbott, Oliver Davies, Ben Dwarshuis, Jack Edwards, Matthew Gilkes, Liam Hatcher, Josh Hazlewood, Daniel Hughes, Nick Larkin, Nathan Lyon, Jason Sangha, Tanveer Sangha, Mitchell Starc
WA squad: Mitch Marsh (c), Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Cameron Green, Liam Guthrie, Aaron Hardie, Josh Inglis, David Moody, Lance Morris, Josh Philippe, D’Arcy Short, Ashton Turner, Sam Whiteman
The 2021 Marsh Cup Final will be broadcast LIVE in Australia on Fox Cricket & Kayo Sports and live streamed for free globally on cricket.com.au & the CA Live app. ABC Grandstand's live radio coverage will also be available on cricket.com.au & the CA Live app