A Tribute to King Kallis

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A man of indomitable spirit and immense talent, the all-rounder Jacques Henry Kallis has retired from test cricket after 18 years at the highest level. Adept at all facets of the game, Kallis was the rock of the South African team, which helped them receive several accolades such as the Test Mace having rightly achieved the Number 1 Ranking after a see-saw series in 2012 against England.

Although Kallis lacked the fanfare given to other modern greats, his numbers do indeed pay justice to his extraordinary talent. Kallis pouched his 200th catch in his preferred fielding position at slip, to go along with 292 wickets and 13,289 runs at a superb average of 55.37. The fact that Kallis endured and prospered at the international level for 18 years as an all-rounder, underlines his great commitment and steely determination, which has allowed him to maintain his peak physical condition.  

Possessing an unflappable temperament, Kallis demonstrated his class in his last outing in whites by notching up his 45th and final test century in Kingsmead. This batting masterclass led South Africa to a series win on a Durban pitch which was turning increasingly and played like a typical Kolkata wicket.

This caused the Indian bowling attack, which had previously restricted the number 1 side to 244 in the first innings of the Wanderers test, to appear toothless. This left Indian captain Dhoni mentally beaten, as his tactics of defensive cricket, with fielders stationed on the boundaries, proving ineffective.

Irrespective of Dhoni’s captaincy failings, the final knock revealed Jacques at his best, sumptuous cover drives were played with a perfectly straight bat and powerful pull shots were imperiously executed, even though it was known that Kallis was never fond of facing the short ball.         

His role in the bowling attack progressed with age, for in his youth he was a strike bowler possessing a ‘heavy ball’ and capable of tearing through the opposition. As his hair began to steadily recede – before ‘miraculously’ returning in full flow – he evolved into a bowler who was able to restrict the flow of runs and break partnerships with his immaculate control of line and length.

Able to wear down opposition in his prime with both bat and ball, ‘Jakes’ was a traditional cricketer in all senses of the term – he fought hard on the pitch, but off the pitch he was never shy to share a pint with the opposition after a day’s play.

Unlike other cricketers of his era, Kallis was not one to capsize pedalos or throw punches at the opposition. Instead, he was renowned for his charitable actions, such as The Jacques Kallis Scholarship Foundation that aims to maximise the potential of youths in both academia and sport.

Kallis has achieved all that one can in the game; with career highlights including an astounding purple patch in 2003-4, where he scored centuries in five consecutive test matches, became the first man to score a 150 plus score in his 150th test match, whilst also scoring the fastest fifty in test cricket off just 24 balls.  

Kallis now has his eyes set on the final frontier, winning the ODI World Cup. Still available for selection – fitness and form permitting – Kallis is looking forward to attempting to break the ‘chokers’ tag the ODI team has been labelled with and put one last trophy in his expansive cabinet.

It is shame that his sudden retirement was announced, and test cricket will be inevitably poorer for it, with Kallis following in the footsteps of other greats such as Ricky Ponting and of course Sachin Tendulkar who have recently retired.  

Having carried the side on his shoulders on countless occasions, it is only fitting that his team carried him off the field in his last test apperance.            

Mike Silva

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