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With Jacques Kallis announcing his retirement from all forms of the game, the world bids adieu to the last great all-rounder of the game. In an era grossly lacking in genuine pace-bowling all-rounders, Kallis proved himself repeatedly as one of the all-time greats. Shiamak Unwalla looks at the man who could walk into any side of any era.
Truly great pace-bowling all-rounders have been seen in the yesteryears of cricket. There were fast bowlers who who could blow apart a bowling attack with willow in hand. There were batsmen who could run through batting line-ups with the ball. WG Grace, Garry Sobers, Ian Botham, Richard Hadlee, Imran Khan, Clive Rice, Kapil Dev; these were players who are known even now as the pantheon of all-round greats.
And then there is Jacques Kallis. A man who hailed from the country of men like from Graeme Pollock, Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock, Graeme Smith, Dale Steyn, AB de Villiers, and others, and still might well be their greatest player of all time. The man is arguably the only great pace bowling all-rounder in modern times.
There have been other quick-bowling all-rounders who were his contemporaries; Andrew Flintoff had his moments of glory, but didn’t last for half as long as Kallis. Lance Klusener was always a danger, but was known as more of a One-Day International (ODI) specialist. Steve Waugh was a handful, but not always threatening with the ball. Irfan Pathan briefly threatened,but faded away to obscurity. Shane Watson is belligerent, but has a long way to go before he can be called great.
Watson’s bowling too has taken a back seat with persisting injuries not aiding his cause. Kallis was perhaps the only one who could walk into any side on the basis of either his batting or his bowling — he wasn’t too shabby in the slips either — in all three formats of the game. There was a lot of talk of course, as is the case with more successful Test cricketers, about how his batting was cut-out only for Tests. He was not supposed to be a successful batter in limited overs cricket. He was absolutely not supposed to thrive in T20 cricket.
And yet, whether with bat or ball, whether in T20 or Tests, Kallis flourished. That he can be compared against the likes of Ricky Ponting and Rahul Dravid with the bat while also proving himself a more successful bowler across formats than the likes of Imran Khan and Ian Botham shows just how much class Kallis possesses. The world has seen Kallis play for the last time. And the world is infinitely poorer for it.
(Shiamak Unwalla is a reporter with Cricket Country. He is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic who likes to pass his free time by reading books, watching TV shows, and eating food. Sometimes all at the same time. You can follow him on twitter at @ShiamakUnwalla)
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