Australia v South Africa, 1st Test, Brisbane, 3rd day November 11, 2012

Amla, the secret of Kallis' prolific run?

Jacques Kallis has shifted a gear since scoring his first double-century in December 2010. A key factor for this seems to be the presence of Hashim Amla

Australia debutant Rob Quiney would not have had an inkling that some of his thoughts during Australia A's match against the touring South Africans in Sydney would apply to Jacques Kallis. But they do.

After being dismissed for 85, Quiney suggested that scoring a hundred was just a starting point for batsmen these days and that people who mattered looked for "big scores and for people to bat for long periods of time". He meant it in terms of his own quest for selection and probably with the knowledge that previous players have accumulated first-class run tallies into the thousands before they were picked for the national side.

On the other side of the divide is Kallis, a stalwart of the South African game who has achieved so much that some would argue he has nothing left to prove. Yet, that statement applies aptly to him because recently, a hundred has not been enough.

Since his first double-century - remarkably it came after 142 Tests - Kallis has been close to unstoppable. He has scored six hundreds in 13 matches, including another double-ton and three knocks of over 140. It could be a sign of the times, as Quiney hinted, or a maturing of Kallis the batsman, but his want for better scores is insatiable.

Kallis could not quite put his finger on what has brought about this run."I've just been batting really well for the last couple of years," he said. "I've been really comfortable, my strike-rate has been higher and I have had a bit of luck as well."

While there may not be an exact science to identify what brought about Kallis' recent form , two things stand out as clear motivating factors which weren't there in the past. He is either spurred on by team situations which call for his leadership, or by the confidence of the man at the other end of the wicket. Most often that person is Hashim Amla, and he has played a telling role in Kallis' form.

The first instance was demonstrated against India at Newlands in 2010. South Africa faced a series defeat at home, going into the contest at 1-1 against the then No.1 ranked side in the world. At 34 for 2 in the first innings, Kallis walked in and his knock of 161 took them to safety. Although he suffered a side strain in that match, he returned to score another hundred in the second innings and was instrumental in the eventual draw.

His next big score was his second double-century, against Sri Lanka at Newlands. Again, South Africa had a series on the line and were in trouble early at 56 for 2. Kallis had the poise of Alviro Petersen and the audacity of AB de Villiers to partner him through to 224.

At the Oval in July, Amla's role became evident. As he was crafting his way to a record triple-century, Kallis carved out an unbeaten 182. Later, Dale Steyn revealed Kallis' selflessness when he said Kallis had told the dressing room that he didn't want the time to go on to complete a third double-hundred, and would prefer Graeme Smith to declare if it meant the team would win.

The Brisbane hundred is the fourth big score and again it was with Amla alongside him. The pair has now become South Africa's leading partnership of all time which is an indicator that the two are comfortable batting together.

For a lot of his career, Kallis has not had a stable No.3 above him. The revolving door has seen the likes of Gary Kirsten, Daryll Cullinan, Smith, Jacques Rudolph and Boeta Dippenaar pass through it, and none besides Kirsten enjoyed a fruitful pairing with Kallis. Some, like Smith, were there only to bide time. Others, like Dippenaar, were going to be too fragile to establish themselves in the role permanently. With that in mind, Kallis had to become the default repairer in case things went wrong in the rest of the line-up.

His approach had to often steer to the conservative. Once Amla had planted roots into the No.3 spot, Kallis started to show more flamboyance a bit more regularly.

Kallis' centuries are almost perfectly split into two halves: those which came before Amla arrived, and those that were scored after. Kallis played for 11 years before Amla featured in the team and scored 23 centuries in that period. Since Amla cemented his place in the South African side, in 2006, Kallis has scored 21 Test tons.

Amla's presence has contributed to the overall stability of South Africa's line-up. With Smith a long-time opener and De Villiers also building towards a decade as an international cricketer, South Africa's line-up has taken on a familiarly dependable shape.

Some could think of that as predictable, but for Kallis it seems to have created the environment for him to thrive in. He even speaks about his own batting as a team activity, rather than one done in isolation. "We have been performing well together for a few years now," he said at the end of the third day's play. He didn't add that in particular, he has been outdoing everyone else, but we already know that.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on November 14, 2012, 8:39 GMT

    @mr marlboro19 : Please do not make up false statistics if you wish to slate a particular player. With regards to Lara and Ponting having ODI strike rates in the 90's, they actually have ODI strike rates of 80.39 and 79.51 respectively. This is not that much higher than Kallis' 73. By the way it has been stated many times by the SA team that Kallis had the job of anchor, it would have been irresponsible and selfish of him to have gone out hitting because he wanted to improve his strike rate. If you want proof of this, take a look at how Kallis' Strike rate has shot up in recent years while Amla takes on the role of anchor, freeing up Kallis to bat how he pleases.

  • amit on November 13, 2012, 18:51 GMT

    And nobody bothers to mention strike rate of Mr. Kallis? Kallis has a strike rate of bellow 46 in tests and bellow 73 in ODIs. Lara, Ponting and tendulkar all have strike rates touching 60s in tests and around 90s in ODIs. Sehwag with an average of 51 and strike rate of 80+ in tests is, arguably , far better BATSMAN than Kallis.

  • Nilesh on November 13, 2012, 17:59 GMT

    @ binojpeter : spot on mate. @pronoysircar: nice answer.

  • Billy on November 13, 2012, 10:42 GMT

    @Lara4life501, what are you talking about? Read my post again and you will see that I mentioned Lara and Tendulkar in the same sentence. They both had quality moments against McGrath and Warne. If I had to pick though, McGrath dominated Lara to a greater extent than Tendulkar. As a result, Tendulkar was more consistent, Lara was hot and cold but had the better moments. It's a 50/50 call.

  • Sajid on November 13, 2012, 8:55 GMT

    All the talk about sachin and Kallis, i would like to add that considering stats kallis beats tendulkar alone in batting.his bowling is a plus hence he is more valuable player then tendulker. tendulker has the back of strong indian lobby nothing else

  • Dummy4 on November 12, 2012, 19:43 GMT

    @ Rohan Kapoor dude I am also a big fan of sachin but that does mean kallis is not a great batsman for me...if you look up to batsman by no of centuries he scored then you are mistaking...FYI sachin has played 197 international innings more then kallis....and also if you look at the average of both the players i regret to say you that kallis has overtaken sachin in both form of game..sachin test ave is 55.08 in 314 inngs and kallis ave is 56.94 in 262 inngs, whereas is ODI sachin ave is 44.83 in 452 inngs and kallis ave is 45.26 in 307 inngs..I must also tel u kallis have got 550 international wicket(280+270) and sachin has got 199(45+154) if you look evenly kallis is a great cricketer ...sachin is a great batsman...

  • Jason on November 12, 2012, 17:36 GMT

    I am delighted that Kallis is finally starting to get some of the recognition late in his career that seemed to pass him by when he was younger. Perhaps, as some suggest, it is simply because there were considerably more 'great' cricketers around ten / fifteen years ago than today. Whether this is true or not, you can only play what is in front of you. Kallis is 10th all time in Test batting averages, 4th all time in runs, and 2nd all time in centuries, as well as being 29th all time in wickets, and 3rd all time in catches. Pause to digest those numbers for a moment...That his performances seem to be getting better with age (definitely with bat and in the field, at least) is a cause for celebration. Because when he finally retires, cricket, and SA cricket in particular will be immensely poorer for it. Is he as great a cricketer as Warne? Or Lara? Probably not. There is no shame in that. Is he the greatest all round cricketer of our lifetimes? Yes. And it is not even close.

  • Mike on November 12, 2012, 16:38 GMT

    @BillyCC-Please, you must be dreaming...Sachin had more quality moments against McGrath and Warne than Lara???...Give me a break!!! Get on to youtube and see 1999 West Indies vs Australia in West Indies see Lara's 213 and 153 not out, both rated by Wisden as two of the greatest innings EVER PLAYED IN TEST CRICKET behind only the greatest of them all Sir Don Bradman!!! Brian Lara never visited Australia without scoring a test century, the same cant be said for Tendulkar!

  • Dummy4 on November 12, 2012, 14:52 GMT

    @philip-You say kallis has the same batting ability as sachin. What a big joke!!!Sachin has 40 international hundreds more than kallis and a one day international double ton vs your team,which kallis can only dream of achieving even on flat tracks...

  • Dummy4 on November 12, 2012, 14:45 GMT

    @syed-In that terms,kallis is 10 times better and valuable than your Inzihamam and mendhed....Hahahaha...

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