Two years ago, Sean Abbott could not find any motivation to take his batting seriously.
Abbott, who came into the domestic scene as a big downfielder who was good enough to bat over Mitchell Johnson in his one-day international, found himself ranked 11th for the NSW, with even one-time bowling all-rounder with nightwatch duties for the Blues.
The dramatic fall in this line-up certainly stumbled, although Abbott never stopped working on his game, but significantly reduced his enthusiasm for batting.
“I didn’t like the look, so every time I went out there and didn’t get a duck or a big score, it hurt so much,” he says.
“I would lie if I said that work is always done (but) the motivation will always be there.
“When I was a night watchman and asked to bat at the age of nine and 10, you go out there and start slogging so you can get into bowling.”
His rise as a batsman after that was as quick as his fall.
Today, Abbott was asked if he could bat in the 6th or 7th in the Australian Test squad this summer, just a week after his first-class century took his batting average to 130 for the opening rounds of the Marsh Sheffield Shield, second only to Will Bukowski.
While a Test debut this summer will be very realistic as a bowler, it is a measure of how far Abbott’s batting has come in two years, and he is part of Australia’s all-rounder conversation.
Since batting a duck in 10th place in a shield game in November 2018, pressing in line behind Trent Copeland and in front of Nathan Lyon, Abbott has averaged 47 in 20 first-class innings, including five fifties and a memorable hundred last week.
In the previous four years, he averaged 15, and was sent off without scoring every third time he went into the fold.
He has accelerated the batting line-up once and is now a certified all-rounder for the Blues, finishing 7th over the other four leading bowlers, giving them a team balance that has propelled them to an unbeaten start to the season.
“(A few years ago) when I went out as a night watchman and did Nathan Lyon’s work I was not sure I would be batting at seven,” he said with a smile. “Not well, I can add.
“It kind of happened; I worked on my batting, I got better, I got some chances back, I got some runs. I’m so lucky to have done that … They saw the way I was batting during training and they supported me and going back to order. Relied on ability.
“I always thought I had hundreds at the first class level.
“I’m 28 now; I’ve had a lot of opportunities with the bat. I’ve lost a lot. It’s just a matter of enjoying the competition a little more and realizing that those opportunities aren’t coming. Take advantage of it all the time.”
He acknowledges that most of his runs this summer have come on some pretty “soft” pitches against some tiring attacks, and he hopes that the best chance for a Test debut against India this summer will come as a bowler batting at No. 8. Injury to one or two of the country’s leading ranks.
But if Australia face the lifeless pitches that India’s fighters thrived on two years ago this season, and the selectors decide to shake up a serious squad, Abbott is ready.
“If there was a chance to bat the order more, if the selectors and Payne thought I could do the job, I wouldn’t think twice about it,” he said.
“I’m sure … when it comes to a bowling position, I’m more against someone who can bat in six or seven overs.
“But we’ll have to wait and see.”
Australia tour of India 2020-21
Australia Test team: Tim Payne (e), Sean Abbott, Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Lapusakne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Nasser, James Pattinson, Will Bukowski, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Starr, , David Warner
Australia ODI and T20 squad: Aaron Pinch (e), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins (VC), Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Marnus Lapusacne, Glenn Maxwell, Daniel Sams, Kane Richardson, Stan. Marcus Stones, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Samba
India Test team: Virat Kohli (C) (first Test only), Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Prithviraj Shah, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Subman Gill, Viruthiman Saha (weekly), Rishabh Bandh (Wk)), Jaspreet Bhumra, Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Aswin, Mohammad Siraj
India ODI team: Virat Kohli (E), Shikhar Dhawan, Subman Gill, KL Rahul (Weekly), Sanju Samson (Weekly), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Mayank Agarwal, Ravindra Jadeja, Yusvendra Sahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Sardul Thakur.
India T20 team: Virat Kohli (E), Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul (wicket keeper), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Sanju Samson (weekly), Ravindra Jadeja, Washington Sunder, Yusvendra Sahal, Jaspreet, Jaspreet Sahar, D. Natarajan
Dettol ODI Series v India
First day: Nov. 27, SCG, 2.40pm A.E.T.
Second ODI: Nov. 29, SCG, 2.40pm A.E.T.
Third ODI: Dec. 2, Manuka Oval, 2.40pm AEDT
Dettol T20 INDL Series V India
First T20: Dec. 4, Manuka Oval, 7.10pm AEDT
Second T20: Dec. 6, SCG, 7.10pm AEDT
Third T20: Dec. 8, SCG, 7.10pm AEDT
Australia AV India A, December 6-8, Drummoin 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: Dec. 26-30, MCG, 10.30 a.m. A.E.T.
Third Test: January 7-11, SCG, 10.30am A.E.T.
Fourth Test: Jan. 15-19, Kappa, 11 a.m. AEDT
* Competitions and trips are subject to any relevant government regulations or requirements.