Ring-in Abbott sings the Blues
Sean Abbott bats during day four of the Sheffield Shield match against Queensland at Manuka Oval. Photo: Mark Metcalfe
Sean Abbott had his week planned out - kick back on the central coast before storming into action with the Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League.
What the all-rounder didn't count on was hitting the winning runs for NSW in a thrilling end to the Sheffield Shield match against Queensland at Manuka Oval.
The Blues survived a late collapse to beat the Bulls outright by three wickets to revive their first-class title hopes, moving to within six points of the competition leaders.
Resuming at 4-48 and needing 98 for victory, veteran wicketkeeper Brad Haddin was on track for a triumphant Canberra homecoming when he steered the Blues to within 11 runs of victory.
But when captain Stephen O'Keefe and Haddin departed in successive balls to leave the Blues teetering at 7-89, the Bulls were back in the contest. However, late call-up Abbott and debutant leg-spinner Adam Zampa did enough to guide the Blues past the victory target.
Abbott was called into the Blues team at the 11th hour after paceman Josh Hazlewood was seconded to the Test squad on Monday night and he hit the road to Canberra at 5.30am on Tuesday.
''I was supposed to have this week off and I thought I'd get a couple days away to relax with my girlfriend before the Big Bash season,'' Abbott said.
''I was really hoping Adam up the other end would get [a single] so I could have a go at hitting the winning runs. It's a special feeling after the boys have worked so hard on a flat wicket to get to that stage of the game.''
It was NSW's second outright win of the season and moves it to 14 points, six behind joint competition leaders Queensland and Victoria.
Queensland paceman Ben Cutting picked up another wicket on Friday morning to finish the second innings with 4-30.
Steve Smith showed intent from the outset with a cracking pull shot to the boundary off Cutting, only to fall in the final ball of the first over for 22, edging a ball to wicketkeeper Chris Hartley to give the Queensland paceman his fourth wicket of the innings.
But just as the Blues appeared shaky, Haddin steadied the ship with some great counter-attack batting. The 35-year-old clobbered four boundaries to take the fight to the Queensland bowlers.
Haddin and O'Keefe combined for a 35-run partnership before O'Keefe was run out after mid-pitch mix-up. The Blues plunged further into strife when Haddin holed out to an amazing catch from Luke Feldman at mid-off for 33. Then Zampa joined Abbott in the middle with the score at 7-88.
Queensland coach Darren Lehmann lamented his side's second-innings batting performance where they were bowled out for 173 after 243 in the first dig.
''We shot ourselves in the foot batting-wise, basically,'' Lehmann said. ''The good thing about our boys is we just competed the whole game. That's what I'm really proud of. I'm disappointed we didn't play as well as we would have liked here but full credit to NSW, they deserved the victory.''
The two teams meet again in a limited-overs Ryobi Cup match at Manuka Oval on Sunday.