Giant in deed, Kallis to take final bow

Giant in deed, Kallis to take final bow

Giant in deed, Kallis to take final bow

 For over 18 years, Jacques Kallis has been an immense presence in international cricket – in the way he played the game, in the way he imposed himself on the opposition.

After a lean 2013 in which he scored just 160 runs from seven Tests, Kallis’s Test career has always been closer to the end. But when the 38-year-old South African all-rounder announced his retirement from Tests on Wednesday, it triggered ripples of disappointment. The Boxing Day Test against India, beginning on Thursday here, will be his farewell match.

Ricky Ponting, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman – the mid 90s batch of batsmen who made their debut along with Kallis – retired in 2012. Sachin Tendulkar retired last month, and now with Kallis deciding to move away, the world cricket has lost its last modern master.

His 13,174 runs from 165 Tests at 55.12 with 44 hundreds is undeniably a sign of greatness, being only the fourth member of the 13,000-plus runs club (Tendulkar, Ponting and Dravid are the others). But there was something beyond those vast numbers in Kallis’ batting. He was ruthlessly efficient, a batsman you want in your side for a battle for life.

You could trace a bit of Steve Waugh in him – never really worried about looking ugly in his quest for victory. Yet, his batting was not bereft of aesthetics.

The cover drive he executed standing on his full frame and with a complete flourish of the bat was a marvel. But he was equally adept at all shots – something that made him a batsman for all occasions and all conditions.

His ability to bowl consistent spells at sharp pace offered astounding flexibility to South African line-up since his debut in 1995. Of course, Kallis the batsman overshadowed the bowler often, but the 292 Test wickets will stand as a testimony to his all-round abilities.

Purely in terms of statistics, he’s the best all-rounder in the history of the game, even better than Sir Garfield Sobers and the 80s quartet of Ian Botham, Kapil Dev, Imran Khan and Richard Hadlee. Kallis also boasts of 199 catches in Tests, making him an all-rounder in every sense of the word.
Kallis will be seen in action in limited-over formats at least until the 2015 World Cup. But the titan that he was in Tests will be missed.