When an international cricket player can score more than 25,000 runs and take almost 600 wickets across all formats, you know you have a keeper.
Jacques Kallis may have officially announced his retirement from all international forms of cricket (having stepped down from test cricket in December of 2013), but the presence and impact he made on the game is forever.
It was not long before the world saw just how good he was. Less than five years after making his international debut, at the 1996 World Cup, Kallis had already garnered “Player of the Series” and “Man of the Match” performances. Ranked world number one for all-rounders in 2001, Kallis was the rock in the top or middle order. Whenever South Africa needed a miracle, chances were “King Kallis” could deliver.
Perhaps one of the most unforgettable moments was the complete pearler of a ball he delivered to former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting in his last test at the WACA in 2012. Sending Ponting onto all fours, the ball pitched outside off, stayed lower than Ponting expected, and had him all out of position as the stumps were shattered.
Channel 9 commentator Mark Nicholas summed up Kallis exceptionally well in his tribute article on ESPN Cricinfo:
“In an age of extravagance, Kallis played the game pragmatically. He preserved his wicket in the way of the great defenders and yet had a range of strokes that allowed him control of pretty much any attack. His hugely strong upper body brought immense physical strength to his bowling, as batsmen uniformly spoke of a “heavy ball” and the relentless application of a tactic.”
Australians weren’t the only one at the King’s mercies. More than a third of his 45 test centuries were scored against England and the West Indies. He had an average of 69.36 against India from 18 test matches.
He wanted to play and head to Australia and New Zealand for the 2015 World Cup, but in Kallis’ words, it was “a bridge too far.”
Cricket South Africa (CSA) Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat chimed in as well;
Shane Warne will fondly remember nabbing Kallis’ as his 300th test wicket, but it was not often that Kallis would succumb to the spin.
Kallis’ former skipper, Graeme Smith, was hoping to see him play through to the World Cup. However, his comments on the all-rounders honesty resonate with the rest of the South African cricket community.
Influence matters when it comes to consistency in a team, and Kallis has been with a team that, certainly in recent years, has been so strong from stem to stern. Five centuries in five consecutive test matches, and the then fastest test 50 (from 24 balls), Kallis’ records list is extensive.
He may not have donned the whites since December 2013, but Kallis snared an incredible 200 catches from 166 tests. The Proteas can always “replace” Kallis in the sense of a new player in the squad; but they can never replace Kallis the person.