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As Jacques Kallis’s illustrious career comes to an end, Abhishek Mukherjee and Nishad Pai Vaidya pay a tribute with some little-known titbits on the man they called King.
Finally, the moment we had all dreaded: Jacques Kallis announced his retirement a mere seven months before what could have been his final World Cup. Like Graeme Smith (who became the first Test batsman to finish in the 9,000s when it came to Test runs), Kallis resisted the temptation to bow out of the grandest of all stages in limited-overs cricket — the Holy Grail that has always remained elusive to the Rainbow Nation.
Here, then, is a list of little-known facts about the greatest cricketer of our times (this does not include the fact that Rameez Raja refers to him as Yack Kallis).
1) His old man
Kallis was extremely close to his father Henry. When Kallis senior was diagnosed with terminal cancer, his son took time out of the sport to be with his father. When Henry Kallis finally passed away at 65, Jacques changed his One-Day International jersey to the same number.
2) It’s all in the family
Kallis’ sister Janine is a cheerleader for Chennai Super Kings (CSK). When Jacques — playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the second edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) — was dismissed, Janine actually celebrated the dismissal of her brother. Jacques took the entire event rather sportingly and mentioned that he was impressed by her dance at his dismissal.
3) Mr Consistency
Known for his consistency, Kallis did not exactly have a dream debut: from his first seven innings (played over five Tests, all at home) Kallis had reached double-figures only once, and his numbers had been languishing at 57 runs at 8.14. Then he took off — until he came to a halt after 18 years.
4) The man who hit them big
People would probably remember Kallis as a stone-waller, but he did end up hitting the second-most sixes in Tests when he retired. His tally of 97 (96 for South Africa, one for ICC World XI) is next to only Adam Gilchrist’s tally of exactly 100. Since Kallis’s retirement Chris Gayle has also caught up with him, and is on 97 at the time of writing this article. For the sake of information, AB de Villiers comes next among South Africans with 50 sixes.
He is on 13th in the ODI list with 137 sixes, but is well clear of Herschelle Gibbs’ 128. This makes him the most prolific ODI six-hitter among South Africans. “When he hit them, they stayed hit,” Ravi Shastri would have said.
5) Too small to hit?
Kallis was dropped from the Western Province Under-15 side because — you have to believe it — “he was too small to hit the ball off the square” (Jacques Kallis and 12 Other Great SA Cricket All-Rounders, Ali Bacher and David Williams). When he got to know of this, Kallis responded with “I’ll show them,” and made his way back promptly. He is not exactly “small” these days.
6) The Asian giant
With 2,058 runs at 55.62 from 25 Tests, Kallis is the only non-Asian to have scored over 2,000 Test runs in Asia. Though Ricky Ponting (the next man on the list with 1,889) runs has quit, Shivnarine Chanderpaul (1,850) and Alastair Cook (1,802) both stand with realistic chances of getting past him.
Great batsmen are usually oblivious to sledging, but Kallis took things to another plane. On one occasion Michael Kasprowicz kept on foul-mouthing him, but to zero impact. “Kasper” kept on bouncing at him, then, after giving a bouncer his all, sledging again — all without any effect — an exasperated Kasprowicz panted in despair: “Is this man f**king deaf?”
8) The national anthem mystery
The fact that Kallis does not sing the national anthem has intrigued many. As Gerald Majola explained, “Jacques (Kallis told me that he sings the anthem in his heart in a quiet moment in remembrance of his parents and in gratitude for what they did to allow him to be good enough to represent his country. He has great respect for the anthem and cherishes every moment he has represented South Africa around the world.”
9) The Springbok that never was
Kallis was a rugby fly-half in his teens; in fact, he was good enough for MPC Entertainment to mention that he “could just as easily have been starring for the Springboks as the Proteas.” While he never became a double-international, he co-authored Rugby in Our Blood with rugby union coach Jake White, Olympic gold-medallist rower John Smith, sports journalist Angus Powers, and the iconic sprinter Oscar Pistorius.
10) Hair in his eyes?
On December 21, 2010, Kallis met with a minor accident (but emerged unscathed) while driving his Audi R8 at Wynberg. The cheeky Mark Boucher did not hesitate to have a go at Kallis, fresh from a recent hair transplant: “Think my mate’s hair must have got into his eyes while driving last night.”
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