One of the all-time greats is on the way out, with South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis announcing his retirement from Test cricket.
JACQUES Kallis has always been a man of few words, but his staggering statistics speak volumes about him as a cricketer.
The 38-year-old all-rounder – arguably the greatest all-rounder in history – is playing his final Test match for South Africa against India after a professional career spanning 18 years.
During that time he has amassed 13,174 runs, a number bettered only by Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting and Rahul Dravid, but he has also taken 292 wickets.
Former Proteas coach Mickey Arthur was shocked to hear of Kallis’ sudden retirement and believes his departure will upset the balance of the world’s best Test team.
“He’ll go down as one of the greatest Test cricketers the world’s ever seen,” Arthur said.
“He always gave South Africa an extra man. You could pick him as a bowler and a batsman, so South Africa always played with 12 men in Test cricket and I think it’s certainly going to upset the balance of their team now.”
A man who doesn’t speak much but possesses a wicked sense of humour, Kallis was “sheer brilliance” with the bat, says Arthur.
He was the type of player who Arthur, as coach, could sit back and admire, while watching the batsman at the other end grow in confidence.
“They just got bigger and bigger because batting with Jacques was so good,” Arthur said.
“I just saw those guys improve so much when they batted with Kallis.
“He was the one batsman who, as a coach, when I saw Jacques get through the first 10 or 15 balls I could just relax and admire him. You just thought, there’s no ways he’s going to get out here – he was just that type of player.
“Technically he was so good and mentally he was very strong – he just had it all.”
But for all his composure and concentration at the crease, Arthur also revealed that Kallis was often a bundle of nerves before walking out to the middle.
“He is a very nervous guy, surprisingly, before he bats,” he said.
“I always used to think, Jacques Kallis can’t be nervous because he’s Jacques Kallis. But he was a fairly nervous guy, before he just switched off and concentrated on his batting.”
Strangely, it’s only in the last few years that Kallis has come to be fully appreciated by South Africans.
Often criticised – unfairly – for his slow run rate, Arthur hopes his phenomenal achievements will now be fully appreciated.
“I certainly don’t think Jacques got the respect he deserved, particularly in his own country,” Arthur said.
“I always found he was probably more respected outside of his country, which was very strange.
“He never took notice of statistics but maybe now, at the back-end of his career, he will reflect on them.”