NSW coach backs Abbott as a threat for Ashes clashes

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NSW coach Greg Shipperd wants Australia's selectors to keep Sean Abbott in mind as a genuine Ashes option, saying he is a better red-ball cricketer than in his last push for a Baggy Green.

Abbott was overlooked for Australia's squad announced last month, but alongside Michael Neser is in the UK for county cricket.

The 31-year-old bowling allrounder claimed figures of 5-50 in his first county match with Surrey last month, and has taken 11 wickets at 28.54 so far this season.

Selectors have already indicated they will bring players in from county cricket during this year's series if needed, with the freedom to make conditions-based selections each Test.

That would be most likely with the fast bowlers, particularly if Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood or Scott Boland are injured or need managing through three tight turnarounds.

Neser and Abbott would be the front-runners, with Neser pushing his claims with a hat-trick and 7-32 for Glamorgan last week.

But while the Queenslander has played two Tests for Australia since his debut in December 2021, Abbott has become one of the forgotten men of red-ball cricket.

Talked about as a possible debutant in the lead-up to the 2021/22 Ashes, stints in COVID bubbles meant Abbott went almost 12 months without playing any red-ball cricket.

He returned to be NSW's leading wicket-taker in the Sheffield Shield last year, despite being limited to six matches, before impressing on the one-day tour of India.

"Through last season it was a tremendous boost to Sean's standing in the Australian squad," Shipperd said.

"The feedback I have had with (chief selector) George (Bailey) and other senior people around the Australian team is they are delighted with his progress as a player.

"My estimation is he and Michael Neser are both live options in the back end of that Ashes tour, despite not being in the squad.

"They are there for a reason and are both putting their best foot forward in terms of being an option."

Shipperd, who has long coached Abbott at the Sydney Sixers, said the allrounder had managed to improve his game despite limited time on the field.

He said Abbott could be a real asset for Australia in Test cricket.

"He is making some great strides in his red-ball and white-ball cricket," Shipperd said.

"His control of line and length, his pace, is just right for the amount of movement he can generate in the air.

"Through his T20 skill development he has learned to bowl a lot of cutters and is able to seam the ball in conditions. To right- or left-handers he presents a handful"