Kyle Abbott signing a Kolpak agreement with Hampshire has put the Proteas pace attack under pressure for the tours of New Zealand, England and the ICC Champions Trophy in England. It is difficult seeing Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel returning after their injuries, especially at their age. Steyn has not completed the last three Tests that he has played in, so the Proteas have potentially lost three of their front line bowlers that have served them so well.
These losses will test the depth of fast bowling in South Africa with only Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander left of the established bowlers. Also, Philander is approaching the end of his illustrious career leaving only Rabada for the long-term. The two immediate replacements identified by the selectors are Wayne Parnell and Duanne Olivier.
Parnell made his debut for South Africa at 19. It looked like he would become a world-class player but that never materialised. During his career he has had many chances in all formats of the game and failed. He will now be given another opportunity at 27 to secure a place and contribute to the South African cricket system that has invested heavily in him. Whether he has he the temperament to deliver justifying this confidence and investment, only time will tell.
The other young bowler that the selectors have identified is Olivier from the Knights. He has bowled with great pace and passion this season and is the top wicket-taker in the Sunfoil Series. He looks a real prospect for Test cricket, but being uncapped at 24 it will be interesting to see how he performs in a year that the Proteas have two difficult outbound tours and a big ICC tournament.
For the rest the cupboard is fairly bare leaving only Chris Morris, Dwaine Pretorius and Marchant de Lange, who between them have only 4 Test caps.
Morris is the real talent and the Proteas need to manage him better with regards to playing opportunities at Test level. His IPL contract confirms his value as a player and the selectors would do well to take note of it. The danger is that Morris is another talented player that becomes a casualty like Ryan McLaren, who was badly handled by the system.
When everything is said and done the loss of Kyle Abbott has come at the wrong time for South African cricket, of that there is no doubt.