Test cricket bids adieu to conqueror Kallis

December 31, 2013

Time has come for the world of test cricket to move on without its biggest conqueror – Jacques Kallis. He is arguably the greatest cricketer to have played the game  and his retirement ends a career that has been both revered and envied.

The 38-year-old has set a benchmark for excellence in cricket. His test record boasts of 13,289 runs from 166 matches at 55.37, which includes 45 hundreds, to go along with 292 wickets and 200 catches. Any test cricketer would easily settle for any one of the above statistical landmarks in their entire career, let alone all of them together.

While longevity and consistency set Kallis apart, his hunger for runs and wickets, almost-perfect technique and sound fitness levels ensured his performances never dropped.

The time he realised he wasn’t performing to the high standards he set himself, he decided to call it quits.

The year 2013 was turning out to be the leanest season in Kallis’ career and it wasn’t surprising that he decided to end his Test career at Durban, the venue where it all began for him in 1995.

Not surprisingly, Kallis wrote the same familiar script. A century followed despite the deluge of emotions as his team mates and fans watched in admiration.

Like all great players, the sense of occasion was never lost on Kallis. Even in his last test, he ensured that his team got what they expected of him. Picture-perfect backfoot punches, pulls and cover drives were unleashed to light up the gloomy skies at Durban. The opposition were reduced to a sub-plot.

It all seemed like a fairytale as South Africa went on to win the test by 10 wickets and the series 1-0, with Kallis playing a key role in their triumph.

Kallis has often been compared to legendary West Indian all-rounder Garry Sobers. Their batting averages and wickets tally are also quite similar apart from the fact that Kallis played for a longer duration – 73 tests and 324 ODIs (to date) more than Sobers.

However, both were vastly different cricketers. Sobers was a fluent strokemaker known for his languid style and Kallis a purist who put caution ahead of flamboyance and hence comparing them won’t offer a ‘fair’ conclusion.

Kallis’ achievements, however, are unparalleled. No cricketer has ever had more than 11,000 runs and 270-plus wickets in both tests and ODIs. This record alone would stand for decades to come. He is third in the all-time run getters list, behind Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting.

The fact that Kallis could have made it into the South African team either as a specialist batsman or as a pacer indicates the quality of cricket he played.

Rahul Dravid put it aptly when he labelled Kallis as “the most complete cricketer of his generation”.

Test cricket will now have to wait for an eternity before another like Kallis turns up.

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