Out of all the adjectives used by media to describe Jacques Kallis, I pick indefatigable warhorse as the best fit. The last standing destrier of the modern day cricket retires thus bringing an end to an era which boasted of many greats – Lara, Warne, McGrath, Dravid, Ponting and the God himself.
From the time he announced himself in the 1997’s Boxing Day test by scoring a 4th inning century against the likes Warne and McGrath to the time he announced his departure in the 2013’s Boxing Day test against India by scoring another century, Kallis had innumerable times scripted victory or thwarted defeat for his country.
Statistically he is undoubtedly the best all rounder to play in the last 25 years and in the history of the game he is next only to Gary Sobers. His stats are staggering, he is 3rd in the list of run getters and 2nd in the list of centuries and 2nd in the list of catches taken in test match cricket, add to that his 292 wickets and he emerges as the only player to score more than 10,000 runs and take 100 wickets in the test matches. But more than statistics, it is his sense of responsibility for his team which makes him the great warhorse. Rarely did he gift his wicket to the opposition or got out playing an ugly shot. Another measurement of his greatness is the standard which he has set for the South African cricket. Remember that SA came back to cricketing world post apartheid era and was in the search of cricketing heroes. When Kallis played his first test match there were lot of good batsmen in the team averaging in 40’s. Compare that to the last test match he played and there were bunch of good younger batsmen in the team averaging in 50’s. How did that happen? Thanks to great man who led the path to set the higher standards for the later generations (Kallis averages 55 + in test matches which is higher than Sachin, Dravid, Ponting and Lara). And then in his long career had he ever been involved in controversy!! And what respect did he command from the opposition!!
Despite having all the qualification for being greatest player, it is pity that Kallis always went under the radar in comparison to the contemporary greats. He never had that short making grace of Sachin or flamboyance of Lara or boldness of Ponting or guile of Warne or precision of McGrath. But in terms of grit he was no lesser. Perhaps he was more like Dravid. If Dravid was the wall for India then Kallis was like a rock to South Africa, Rock of Gibraltar.
- Jacques Kallis announces retirement from cricket (amog.com)
- Kallis: Cricket’s least celebrated great? (bbc.co.uk)
- Kallis- An Unsung Legend (midnightbreakfast.wordpress.com)
- The all-rounder of his era (thehindu.com)
- Cricket: Kallis hits ton in final Test (edition.cnn.com)
- Kallis hits century in final Test (bbc.co.uk)