Centurion: When Kyle Abbott's mobile phone rang at his Durban home early on Tuesday morning he didn't recognise the number, stopped the call, switched his phone to silent and went back to sleep.
What he didn't realise was that the mystery caller was Andrew Hudson, convener of the South African selectors, informing him that he needed to get on a flight to Johannesburg to join the squad for the third Test against Pakistan at Centurion. Six days later he is a new South African sports hero after taking seven for 29 on his Test debut, enabling his country to enforce the follow-on and press for a series whitewash.
"When I woke up there was a voice message and I thought I had better phone back quickly," said Abbott, 25.
At that stage he was designated as a back-up player and he was happy just to be welcomed by the national players, "seeing how the number one team in the world prepares for Test matches and how they go about their business".
On Thursday, the day before the Test, coach Gary Kirsten told him that Jacques Kallis had a minor injury and that he might be in the team. Abbott didn't get his hopes up too high.
"Jacques went for a scan and I thought he would pull through."
But later that afternoon Kirsten told him he would be playing.
"I still didn't quite believe it until I was in the bus coming to the ground the next morning," he said.
Out on the field, he said he lived by a motto passed on to him by former South African fast bowler Friedel de Wet.
"He told me, 'Always give a hundred percent and expect nothing in return'. I have done that the whole season. I have gone out there and left nothing on the table."
Vice-captain AB de Villiers described Abbott's performance as amazing. "He was really consistent. He didn't show any signs of nerves. It was what you expect at Test level, hitting the deck hard and hitting good areas more often than not," said De Villiers, a century-maker on Saturday. He got a few really big wickets for us. He's a captain's dream, a guy who has a lot of control, knows what he's doing and what he wants. He makes the batsmen play a lot."
More from this Section
May 20, 2015, 5:06 pm IST
May 20, 2015, 4:32 pm IST
May 20, 2015, 12:50 pm IST
May 20, 2015, 11:05 am IST