Kallis leaves on his own terms

'I don't think Sachin Tendulkar's records will get beaten easily'

Kallis leaves on his own terms

After they had won the second Test and series, after all the formalities had been done, South African players walked out clad in T-shirts which had Jacques Kallis’ image embossed.

They formed a huddle near the pitch, with Kallis at the centre, singing ‘Proteas Fire’ as a group. Then proceeded to click pictures with the man of the moment, a poignant moment it was.

It was also a symbol of their appreciation of Kallis – a wonderful cricketer and dear teammate. It wasn’t tough to understand the strong emotions for those who attended his last press conference as a Test cricketer.

Excerpts:

On planning his retirement: I have planned it with Graeme, Boucher. Totally my call, there were no outside influences. I just felt I lost that little bit of an edge, because mentally it is quite tough over the five days. If I can’t give 100%, I don't want to bring a team down. I had 18 wonderful years, and I woke up and said it is time. I am 100% convinced that it is.

On his playing style: I’ve always been one that’s tried to lead from the front. Never been one to shout my mouth off. I’ve always believed you play the game hard on the field without crossing the boundaries. At the end of the day, you still want to have mates. If you can go to most of the players you’ve played the game against and have a beer, you could.

On facing criticism of being a selfish player: Took a little bit of flak over the years, and made decisions that I thought was for the best of the team. People didn't always agree, but at the time they were never selfish decisions.

On playing one-day cricket: It's going to free me up a little bit. Concentrating a whole year on one-day stuff and not worry about Test match technique. I'm very excited. We will manage the workload. I would like to play in most of the one-day cricket. I'll just try to become the best player I can. I'll play some T20s, to make sure I keep playing. By the time the World Cup comes, if I am good enough and selected, hopefully, I will be playing the best ODI cricket of my life.

On pursuing Sachin Tendulkar’s records: I've never played the game for records and stats. I've always tried to play the game to make the best calls and play the situation. Records have never been important to me. Maybe one day when I am finished, now. I don't think that record of Sachin Tendulkar will get beaten very easily.

Proud of what I achieved -- 10,000+ runs -- it's something I'm very proud of.

On retiring at the same ground where he made debut: That first Test match I played here (against England in 1995), I was a nervous little kid. At that stage, you don't know much about the game or your own game. When I used to play garden cricket with my sister, you dream of playing for SA. To play 166 Test matches, I don't think anyone ever dreams of that. I am thankful for every game I played, right up until the last one. I always gave everything I had.

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