A legend's lesser known side

Last Updated 28 December 2013, 18:11 IST

The sight of Indian players giving a guard of honour to Jacques Kallis on Saturday when he came to bat caused a lump in the throat. It was a true gesture of appreciation of one the game’s greats.

Shaun Pollock and Mark Boucher, who had shared the dressing room for long years with Kallis, were there to witness the special moment.

Boucher was touched by the move. "You know when international sides really appreciate a legend of the game and a lot of these guys do appreciate Jacques and lot of sides would have done the same thing. But when it actually happened, you get goose-bumps.

“It's something that Jacques really would have felt honored and privileged. That is something special. When sides, and a great side like India, do that to you, you can't help but think you've left a legacy in the game,” said Boucher.

Pollock said South Africa would miss Kallis. “A cricketer like him to replace him you do need two guys at some stage. From a team perspective, a wonderful guy to have around. Never caused a stir or a fuss in the change-room. Just got on with his business,” said Pollock.

Those two close associates then moved on to a rather unknown side of Kallis – a person with a sense of humour. Pollock began first. “There was that one during an U-23 trip. He was struggling with a bit of heat. He came in and gave the classic comment of ‘I need some petrol for my radiator’, which probably wasn’t right. If someone would hit a shot and the ball would go and hit a pile of rubbish and he would say that was a ‘rubbish shot’. Or he hit it into a tree and he would say it was a ‘tree-mendous’ shot.”

Pollock rolled out another gem. “Everyone was quiet after our bowlers conceded 434 to Australia. Jacques was the last man to come in and as he walked in he said: “Well guys, the bowlers have done the job. They’re 10 runs short of what they should have got. Let’s go and get it.” And everyone burst out laughing,” he said.

 Boucher then chipped in with his own story. “We were in Wellington and everyone knows the wind really does blow hard in Wellington. He was running into the wind and I told him: ‘Listen you are losing your balance at the crease so why don't you try and shorten the run-up.’ I was talking maybe running three quarters rather than the full. He started bowling off two steps and he ran up to me and said: ‘Listen I think you've changed my whole bowling career. I think I can do this for a while now.”

Time for some serious stuff, and where does he stand in the pantheon of great modern day batsmen — Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Ricky Ponting and Rahul Dravid? Pollock answered it.

“That’s the one thing we are not going to get to the bottom of. The people you would be comparing him with would be Ponting, Tendulkar, Lara and Dravid. Dravid would probably be in the same boat. He’s gone about his business without trying to draw too much attention himself. And Jacques is very much along those lines.
“But one thing I can say that some of the pitches that we have experienced here were not so easy to score runs but he made it look easy. If Jacques batted on some of those flatter wickets, then may be he would have ended up with a better average.”

(Published 28 December 2013, 18:11 IST)

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