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'I think I'm a better fisherman than Steyn and Morkel'

Abbott's attempts to learn the local language during his time at the IPL haven't been quite successful AFP

You didn't answer the phone when you were being called to inform you of your maiden Test call-up, and instead went back to sleep. Do people still rib you about that?
Not as often anymore, but I do think about it quite often. It's something I just wasn't expecting at that time. It was something I will never forget. I suppose the situation got funny. Still, will be a good story to tell, I think.

Taking 7 for 29 in your first Test innings is obviously the stuff of dreams. What else stands out for you from that match?
Just having the privilege of playing for South Africa at the time when we were obviously the Test No. 1 team in the world. Playing in that environment was pretty special.

Do you still have the ball from the Test? Where do you keep your souvenirs?
I have got every other ball that I have taken five wickets [with]. Just small pieces of memorabilia I always keep. I usually hand it all down to my parents. My parents have got a little bit of a display cabinet going on, so they have got most of the stuff at their house. When I am around there, I go in and have a look.

What do you like best about fellow Zululander Lance Klusener?
You know, when he came in and first started coaching me [at Dolphins], he challenged me and got me out of my comfort zone. He has always been very honest with me - that's been the most important thing. Probably when I slacked off, that's what was needed. So cricket and fishing advice - he is a very good man for me.

"I have got every other ball that I have taken five wickets [with]. My parents have got a little bit of a display cabinet going on, so they have got most of the stuff at their house"

What did he do to push you out of your comfort zone?
He just kept presenting new challenges and new goals and helped me work towards that, because I was pretty clueless at that time. So yeah, I have got a lot to pay him back.

Who is the fastest bowler you have ever come across?
Definitely Mitchell Johnson. It's been good having him around [at Kings XI Punjab]. I have gone well with him and we are sharing a few stories from international cricket, which has been great.

What is the funniest thing you have seen on a cricket field?
There have been a lot. In one of our recent T20s against Australia in Cape Town, for like 20 overs there was a squirrel running around across the pitch. The game had to be stopped, and then the squirrel went off. It was pretty funny.

Who is your role model outside cricket?
I suppose Nelson Mandela. He obviously had a huge impact on our country and the way we are now. I never got to meet him, unfortunately. I think one of the most important things that he said is that sport unites people. And I suppose that's what I am doing - playing for the country, and I am lucky to do that. We have got a very diverse country, so I think that was one of the most important things he ever said, and that's pretty cool to follow.

What are the most memorable conversations you have had with Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel?
I think we share similar interests. Our fishing chat on tour has been the most interesting away from cricket. We spend a long time on the road and we are always talking about home. Also, they are keen wildlife people, so a lot of the conversations revolve around that.

Who is better at fishing - Morne or Dale?
Oh, that's a tough one. I am not sure, actually. I think I am a better fisherman than all of them put together (laughs).

Are you the funniest guy in the South African dressing room as well?
Definitely not. Morne Morkel is the funniest man.

In the Kings XI dressing room, you have a 4-3 advantage with respect to the number of South African players vis-a-vis Australian. Do you guys bully them?
We do remind them that they are outnumbered, so they need to be careful (laughs). But we have got on pretty well. We have played a lot of international cricket against each other, so the respect is there between all the overseas players, which is nice. We have played golf and got together.

What are the things you have enjoyed doing in your downtime in the IPL?
Getting to know some of those young local guys. You see them on TV and you don't know their stories. There are lots of examples, especially the local Punjabi guys. It is always nice being around guys and learning, no matter who it is. I tried to pick up a bit of Punjabi, but it's a little confusing.