Hampshire supporters will have to wait until after Easter – and the county’s fourth match of the new season – before Kyle Abbott makes his Ageas Bowl bow.
But his home debut certainly promises to be a tasty one – with Graeme Smith and Kevin Pietersen potentially lining up for Surrey on April 27.
The 26-year-old pace bowler is unavailable for the LV= County Championship curtain raiser against Worcestershire and Hampshire will fit in two away games at Bristol and Derby before coming to Southampton.
But Abbott is already licking his lips at the prospect of taking the new ball against the star-studded Surrey batting line up.
“It was hugely emotional playing in Graeme Smith’s farewell Test and to play against him so early in my spell at Hampshire will be special,” Abbott said.
“We’ve obviously played against each other in provincial cricket and Graeme’s a cricketer and a person I hold in great esteem.
“It’s a pity his Test career didn’t end on a high note – in terms of runs scored – but Graeme’s got a terrific record and is a great player.”
Bowling to Pietersen will also be something special.
“Two Natal boys going head to head, of course, what greater incentive,” he chuckled.
“Should put a few on the gate!”
Abbott has spent three previous summers in English cricket, but admits he has never been to Southampton before.
But he has played against Hampshire captain Jimmy Adams and potential new teammates David Balcombe and James Tomlinson.
“I played some Second XI games for Somerset when I was playing Western League cricket for Clevedon in 2006 and one of them was at the lovely May’s Bounty ground in Basingstoke,” he recalled.
Abbott, then a raw 18-year-old, has fond memories of that Hampshire 2nd XI match – though not for his bowling.
“I went wicket-less, and remember the left-armer Tomlinson getting me caught behind for a duck in our first innings.
“But I got a half-century in our second innings which helped Somerset to a narrow win.
“I enjoy my batting,” said Abbott, who underlined his prowess at the crease by defying the Australians for almost two hours in a night-watchman role as South Africa fought defiantly to try and save the Newlands Test.
The Hampshire 2nd XI side that Abbott played against was: Michael Brown, Jimmy Adams, Greg Lamb, Jono McLean, Kevin Latouf, Tom Burrows, Benny Howell, Hamza Riazuddin, David Balcombe, James Tomlinson, David Griffiths, James Bruce.
Abbot’s Somerset teammates included former Hampshire pair Jon and Simon Francis and Poole Grammar School educated Chris Jones.