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Jacques Kallis announced his retirement from all forms of the game. Bharath Ramaraj looks back at the career of an all-time great all-rounder.
When England toured South Africa in 1996, the hosts were in top notch form, as they won the Test series and then the One-Day Internationals (ODIs) convincingly. Bob Woolmer, South Africa’s coach tried many players in that ODI series, as they looked to have a settled side for the World Cup 1996. Jacques Kallis was one of them who was tried.
However, it was a time when Kallis wasn’t yet the epochal batsman that everyone would come to know about in the years to come. In fact, in the World Cup held in the subcontinent, Kallis’ nerves seemed to be jangling. But here was a cricketer, who just didn’t give up. He made that rousing charge and crossed the finishing line to become one of the greats of the game. In fact, it was his perseverance and diligence that saw him conquer his inner demons.
If the Melbourne Test 1997-98 was the one that saw Kallis come out of his shackles with a pugnacious knock then, it was his 111 at WACA against New Zealand in the Carlton United tri-series in 1998 which brought that inner spark to his ODI career.
His batting in the shorter forms may have lacked the frills and panache of a batsman gifted with dollops of talent, but he became a glittering diamond in South Africa’s line-up by being ultra-consistent. The mighty craftsman essayed some fine innings to his name in ODIs. Who can forget the patient-vigil at the crease against India at Hove in ICC World Cup 1999 that took South Africa to victory. A year before that starred in South Africa winning ICC Knock-Out tournament in 1998. It was his century that South Africa to victory against Sri Lanka in the semi-final.
It has to be also remembered that Kallis was a fine bowler in his own right. In the final, Kallis swung the ball profusely in that ICC Knock-out tournament to take a five-wicket haul. It turned the game on its head and South Africa won the tournament. For once, due to Kallis, South Africa didn’t just come within a sniffing from winning the ICC tournament, but also won it.
As Kallis walks into retirement life, his numbers are staggering to say the least — 11,579 runs in at an average of 44.36 and 273 wickets at 31.79 in ODIs. He was undoubtedly a colossus of Test cricket. Kallis kept his hunger intact and embarked on a long and successful journey. No doubt an all time great!
(Bharath Ramaraj, an MBA in marketing, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket. He has played at school and college-level, and now channelises his passion for the game by writing about it)
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