Kyle Abbott won’t be returning to Hampshire in 2020 due to the pandemic
Instead, the record-breaking seam bowler will remain in his native South Africa and return for a fifth season of county cricket next year.
Abbott recently revealed he was trying to obtain a new visa to visit England, as his previous one had expired during lockdown. Even with that, he would not have been available for Hampshire until the end of this month at the earliest due to needing a fortnight’s quarantine and time to recover match fitness.
Giles White, Hampshire’s director of cricket, explained: ‘The window for Kyle’s return to the UK has narrowed significantly as a result of the pandemic and the difficulties with visa delays and quarantine restrictions that have followed subsequently.
‘We’ve had excellent dialogue with Kyle throughout this period, and with everything considered, we all felt the best course of action was for him to remain in South Africa in readiness for the 2021 season.’
Abbott re-joined Hampshire ahead of the 2017 season after featuring as an overseas player in 2014.
He has claimed 293 wickets for the county at an average of just 21.43 across all formats.
Ofr that haul, 183 have bene in the Championship at just 18.78 apiece including a return of more than 50 wickets in each of the last three campaigns.
In the final home game of 2019, Abbott claimed a career-best 9-40 in the first-innings as well as career-best match figures of 17-86 against Somerset.
They were the best match figures ever recorded by a Hampshire player, and enabled Abbott to end with 72 wickets - only Essex spinner Simon Harmer took more.
Hampshire are also having to do without fast bowler Fidel Edwards this year.
The 37-year-old has almost certainly played his last competitive game the county as a result.
Due to the changing status of Kolpak players in 2021 - following Brexit - Hampshire will only be allowed two overseas players next year, and Abbott is already one of those.
The West Indian, though, has been granted a testimonial game by the county he first played for in 2015.
White said: ‘Circumstances have conspired against a return for Fidel and, sadly, it may be that he has played his last game for the Club.
‘I can’t speak highly enough of Fidel and the impact that he has had. He’s been an unbelievable player over his whole career but most recently with us.
‘We will miss him in every way, he’s been a great team-mate and a wonderful performer.’
Edwards passed 50 first-class wickets in a season for the first time in his career in 2018 before taking 48 Championship wickets at just 25.83, including four five-wicket hauls, in what was now his last season for Hampshire.