West Indies cricket January 29, 2013

A look at the Kallis-Sobers debate

The Jacques Kallis versus Garfield Sobers comparison and evaluation is guaranteed to draw sharply contrasting reactions from most cricket fans
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In today's post, I want to continue on a thread commenced in my last post by considering, in light of the visual appearance of cricket, a contemporary debate about the game's greatest allrounder.

The Jacques Kallis versus Garfield Sobers comparison and evaluation is guaranteed to draw sharply contrasting reactions from most cricket fans. For some, Sir Garry remains peerless; for yet others, Kallis' staggering statistical feats, his batting at No.3, his catching, his value to South African cricket, his contributions to their rise to the top demand recognition and proper assessment.

Kallis will always come off second best in this argument. This is not because I think he is any less of a cricketer than Sir Garry. It's not because I think he is a 'boring bat' who does not perform well in clutch situations, who does not have the strokes Sir Garry had, who took too long to score his first double-hundred, or whatever your favourite canard about Kallis is. Rather, it is because I suspect the dominant imagery of Sir Garry will always swamp that of Kallis.

When we think of Kallis, we think of a burly, muscular, almost impossibly broad-chested man, sometimes clad in helmet and all the clumsy accoutrements of the modern batsman, sometimes running into bowl with a utilitarian action that is surprising precisely because we do not associate the pace he generates with it. Kallis seems heavy, not graceful, functional, not effortless in both his batting and bowling. He perhaps comes closest to gracefulness in his deft catching at slip.

In contrast, when we think of Sir Garry, we think of a slim, lissome cricketer, wearing full sleeve shirts, with sleeves rolled up in classic displays of insouciance, sometimes bare-headed, sometimes wearing a West Indies cap, collars high, moving lightly on his feet, driving the cricket ball with loose-limbed grace, his bat describing vivid arcs of motion that showcase his power and timing.

Let's face it: Garry Sobers just looked better than Jacques Kallis, and always will. His feats are frozen in time, in classic black-and-white photographs; Kallis has been subjected to the unflattering focus of hundreds of hours of live television coverage. Sir Garry is always wearing classic creams and flannels and team sweaters; Kallis has worn the ugly uniforms of one-day international cricket and the IPL. Sir Garry is one smooth operator; Kallis is stodgy in comparison.

I do not intend to denigrate Kallis in any way. He is the most amazing all-round cricketer around these days, and I still cannot believe he has done all he has while batting at No. 3. I merely mean to indicate that when cricket fans compare Kallis to Sobers they have the visual aspects of the two, front and centre. Many fans will say that statistics do not tell the full story and then go on to fill it out by talking of clutch situations and entertainment value. Part of that entertainment value is how the cricketer looks, how much pleasure he provides to our hungry gaze.

Sir Garry was, to put it as bluntly as possible, a beautiful cricketer: he moved with economy and style, he batted with gay abandon in his best moments, he bowled in several styles, with each bowling action a pleasure to look at, he held catches effortlessly, and through it all, he handed out a few sartorial lessons too. If you wanted a hero, he was your man in all the relevant ways.

Kallis can be a hero too, but of another kind; he will feature in paeans to diligence and effort and patience. He is admirable too, but in another dimension. And because so much of our relationship to the game and our assessment of its exponents is tinged with our aesthetic response to them, Kallis will not appeal to us in quite the same way, even when we can do little else but doff our hats to him for his wonderful cricketing abilities and match-winning ways.

Samir Chopra lives in Brooklyn and teaches Philosophy at the City University of New York. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • mo on February 10, 2013, 10:57 GMT

    @BOLL - mate, how can you say sobers is better bowler than kallis. "Sobers finished in the Top 10 every year but one between 1962-1973, Kallis has finished in the Top 10 once in his career (2002)." sobers has a stike rate of over 91 & an average of over 34. How can you even compare the 2 as bowlers? Someone with that avaerage & strike rate would not get into any of the top sides today as a bowler alone wheras Kallis wouldve got into most sides in the world as just a bowler for almost all of his unfinished yet career. Who are we comparing Sobers to on the bowling front? With Kallis we have had warne,murali,kumble,ajmal,donald,pollock,vaas,mgrath,gillespie,steyn,morkel,zaheer,philander,aktar,bond,gul to name but a few!!!

    If Sobers finished in the top 10 so many times it just means the standard of bowlers at that time were much lower & on top of that means the bowlers bowling to Sobers in general were of a lower standard than bowlers Kallis faced in his career.

  • Sunil on February 5, 2013, 20:08 GMT

    Why compare Apple and Orange. They both are great fruits in their own ways. Both serve their purpose and make the life beautiful for the people who enjoy them. Old vs New...It'll always be good old days no matter how terrible they were.

  • jimmy on February 2, 2013, 18:56 GMT

    @Engle. Inane comment with no facts to back it up. Just a statement meaning nothing.

  • Engle on February 2, 2013, 3:37 GMT

    @Warren What you have to understand is that if there is a need to validate or argue a players greatness, then that player simply is not a great. There are too many posts arguing for Kallis whereas Sobers was naturally bestowed with the mantle of greatness, brooking no argument.

  • jimmy on February 1, 2013, 19:53 GMT

    @Chris. Sobers as a spinner trumps Kallis? Take a couple of aspirin and have a good lie down. The stats do not lie - Sobers was a mediocre test bowler - and his spin was worse than his medium pace.Josh has done a great job of proper analysis. I checked the stats and, in fact, if you go by a match by match analysis then Kallis looks even better! Kallis is by far the best, then daylight. I would not even rate Sobers as the 2nd best all rounder. I believe that would be Imran Kahn.As I write this I see Kallis has hit 50 off 78 balls against Pakistan while all the batsman fell around him. Playing for his side not himself.He has done that many, many times.Quite a strike rate as Josh has pointed out. @Beverley. Josh was replying to your point on entertaining. Like Josh, I watched Sobers many times but believe me Kallis was very entertaining in tests in England! And, as Josh proves, you got to see more ENTERTAINING boundaries from Kallis and a lot more running between wickets by Sobers.

  • Warren on February 1, 2013, 7:33 GMT

    @ Beverly Since when does a personality a prerequisite for being a great?!? A South African takes as much joy seeing a Kallis boundary as a West Indian fan seeing a boundary from Sobers. As for excitement lets remember that Bradman only hit 4 sixes in his entire test career and played most of his cricket against the boring Poms!!!

    The problem all the nay sayers have is he isn't their's but I assure you he is loved and adored by his fans. Those who know Kallis (which 10 out of 10 of his critics don't) know that he is an introvert. As in all life you have your extroverts and introverts but to imply that being an extrovert is a necisity for being labelled a "great" is ludicrous. In closing I think the greatest compliment to Kallis is that his critics feel the need to defend his record against their favorites. It's his record that causes it, that causes this blog, that brought us to this point and it is his record that is better than Sobers. Case closed

  • chris on February 1, 2013, 1:38 GMT

    Perhaps we could look at this from another perspective: An all-time X1. One assumes that The Don is a shoe-in, so that leaves 2 middle order slots to be filled by the likes of Pollock,Lara(my choices),SRT, Sir Viv or Hammond. A bowling attack of 3 pacemen and a spinner leaves us to choose an allrounder to act as 4th seamer,a role that both Kallis and Sobers can perform, whereas only Sobers can be used as a complement to the main spinner. I rest my case. Then again,they could both be accomodated by leaving out one of the middle order batsmen.

  • Josh on January 31, 2013, 19:35 GMT

    Now there are comments on all rounders as some sort of show biz stars! If you want to see a show go to the theatre. We are talking cricket. Someone based their argument on the basis of what could Kallis do that Sobers could not? Bowl very much better is an immediate answer. Score more fours and sixes is another. What really depresses me is the number who just repeat the bias from old time commentators as fact. I saw Sobers play on at least 50 to 100 occasions. My observations are based on objective analysis not parroting what some other person said.Just because they keep saying it does not make it true. There have been many great all rounders who were not compared because of the shortness of their test careers e.g. Mike Proctor. Clive Rice may have gone on to become the greatest ever but never played a test! South Africa seems to produce many more great all rounders than any other country. I also rate Graeme Pollock as the second best batsman I ever saw play the game. Bradman was best.

  • Cliff on January 31, 2013, 15:14 GMT

    Basically put-Kallis is one of the top 5 cricketers to ever play the game! Batting average higher than Sachin, Ponting or Lara & ranks close to the best of all time & he's played over 150 tests! And that's based on batting alone! When you add in his bowling and catching then we have an all time great! Fact!

  • Beverly on January 31, 2013, 14:02 GMT

    Cont'd: Apart from my theory above, some of the other questions to ask are: (i)"What is it as a cricket all rounder that Kallis could do, at an acceptable level in test cricket, that Sobers could not have done"? The unanimous and resounding answer is "Nothing"!(ii) "What is it as a cricket all rounder that Sobers could have done and Kallis cannot do at an acceptable level in test cricket"? The unanimous and resounding answer is just a "few things"! The answers to these questions ends the argument. This is the same argument that is being made about some of our great batsmen. There is nothing that some of them could do that their peers could not do with equal time given to all. But there are so many things that people like Bradman and Lara have done that these other so called greats cannot do, even though they have been given all the time.

  • mo on February 10, 2013, 10:57 GMT

    @BOLL - mate, how can you say sobers is better bowler than kallis. "Sobers finished in the Top 10 every year but one between 1962-1973, Kallis has finished in the Top 10 once in his career (2002)." sobers has a stike rate of over 91 & an average of over 34. How can you even compare the 2 as bowlers? Someone with that avaerage & strike rate would not get into any of the top sides today as a bowler alone wheras Kallis wouldve got into most sides in the world as just a bowler for almost all of his unfinished yet career. Who are we comparing Sobers to on the bowling front? With Kallis we have had warne,murali,kumble,ajmal,donald,pollock,vaas,mgrath,gillespie,steyn,morkel,zaheer,philander,aktar,bond,gul to name but a few!!!

    If Sobers finished in the top 10 so many times it just means the standard of bowlers at that time were much lower & on top of that means the bowlers bowling to Sobers in general were of a lower standard than bowlers Kallis faced in his career.

  • Sunil on February 5, 2013, 20:08 GMT

    Why compare Apple and Orange. They both are great fruits in their own ways. Both serve their purpose and make the life beautiful for the people who enjoy them. Old vs New...It'll always be good old days no matter how terrible they were.

  • jimmy on February 2, 2013, 18:56 GMT

    @Engle. Inane comment with no facts to back it up. Just a statement meaning nothing.

  • Engle on February 2, 2013, 3:37 GMT

    @Warren What you have to understand is that if there is a need to validate or argue a players greatness, then that player simply is not a great. There are too many posts arguing for Kallis whereas Sobers was naturally bestowed with the mantle of greatness, brooking no argument.

  • jimmy on February 1, 2013, 19:53 GMT

    @Chris. Sobers as a spinner trumps Kallis? Take a couple of aspirin and have a good lie down. The stats do not lie - Sobers was a mediocre test bowler - and his spin was worse than his medium pace.Josh has done a great job of proper analysis. I checked the stats and, in fact, if you go by a match by match analysis then Kallis looks even better! Kallis is by far the best, then daylight. I would not even rate Sobers as the 2nd best all rounder. I believe that would be Imran Kahn.As I write this I see Kallis has hit 50 off 78 balls against Pakistan while all the batsman fell around him. Playing for his side not himself.He has done that many, many times.Quite a strike rate as Josh has pointed out. @Beverley. Josh was replying to your point on entertaining. Like Josh, I watched Sobers many times but believe me Kallis was very entertaining in tests in England! And, as Josh proves, you got to see more ENTERTAINING boundaries from Kallis and a lot more running between wickets by Sobers.

  • Warren on February 1, 2013, 7:33 GMT

    @ Beverly Since when does a personality a prerequisite for being a great?!? A South African takes as much joy seeing a Kallis boundary as a West Indian fan seeing a boundary from Sobers. As for excitement lets remember that Bradman only hit 4 sixes in his entire test career and played most of his cricket against the boring Poms!!!

    The problem all the nay sayers have is he isn't their's but I assure you he is loved and adored by his fans. Those who know Kallis (which 10 out of 10 of his critics don't) know that he is an introvert. As in all life you have your extroverts and introverts but to imply that being an extrovert is a necisity for being labelled a "great" is ludicrous. In closing I think the greatest compliment to Kallis is that his critics feel the need to defend his record against their favorites. It's his record that causes it, that causes this blog, that brought us to this point and it is his record that is better than Sobers. Case closed

  • chris on February 1, 2013, 1:38 GMT

    Perhaps we could look at this from another perspective: An all-time X1. One assumes that The Don is a shoe-in, so that leaves 2 middle order slots to be filled by the likes of Pollock,Lara(my choices),SRT, Sir Viv or Hammond. A bowling attack of 3 pacemen and a spinner leaves us to choose an allrounder to act as 4th seamer,a role that both Kallis and Sobers can perform, whereas only Sobers can be used as a complement to the main spinner. I rest my case. Then again,they could both be accomodated by leaving out one of the middle order batsmen.

  • Josh on January 31, 2013, 19:35 GMT

    Now there are comments on all rounders as some sort of show biz stars! If you want to see a show go to the theatre. We are talking cricket. Someone based their argument on the basis of what could Kallis do that Sobers could not? Bowl very much better is an immediate answer. Score more fours and sixes is another. What really depresses me is the number who just repeat the bias from old time commentators as fact. I saw Sobers play on at least 50 to 100 occasions. My observations are based on objective analysis not parroting what some other person said.Just because they keep saying it does not make it true. There have been many great all rounders who were not compared because of the shortness of their test careers e.g. Mike Proctor. Clive Rice may have gone on to become the greatest ever but never played a test! South Africa seems to produce many more great all rounders than any other country. I also rate Graeme Pollock as the second best batsman I ever saw play the game. Bradman was best.

  • Cliff on January 31, 2013, 15:14 GMT

    Basically put-Kallis is one of the top 5 cricketers to ever play the game! Batting average higher than Sachin, Ponting or Lara & ranks close to the best of all time & he's played over 150 tests! And that's based on batting alone! When you add in his bowling and catching then we have an all time great! Fact!

  • Beverly on January 31, 2013, 14:02 GMT

    Cont'd: Apart from my theory above, some of the other questions to ask are: (i)"What is it as a cricket all rounder that Kallis could do, at an acceptable level in test cricket, that Sobers could not have done"? The unanimous and resounding answer is "Nothing"!(ii) "What is it as a cricket all rounder that Sobers could have done and Kallis cannot do at an acceptable level in test cricket"? The unanimous and resounding answer is just a "few things"! The answers to these questions ends the argument. This is the same argument that is being made about some of our great batsmen. There is nothing that some of them could do that their peers could not do with equal time given to all. But there are so many things that people like Bradman and Lara have done that these other so called greats cannot do, even though they have been given all the time.

  • Beverly on January 31, 2013, 13:34 GMT

    'Best or greatest all rounder', whichever superlative is used, Sir Gary Sobers is incomparable. Josh's contribution, though impressive it looks is still very weak with respect to the real purpose of cricket as a sport. Cricket's main purpose is to entertain; to relieve spectators' stress and other negative situations plaguing their lives. To decide best and greatest in any type of sport, the verdict will always be that the best are those who provide spectators the best entertainment on a consistent basis. Quantitative stats many times don't tell the true story. Example, I've seen bowlers bowl real crap and pick up lots of 5-fors; many of them via apalling umpiring errors in their favour. Then, I've seen the Marshalls and Akrams, etc bowl some awesome spells and got none for 100+ - again, via poor umpiring. The difference in "quality" between those bowling spells not recorded.I've seen 100s scored in some of the worst innings but serve to enhance records. By this theory, where's Kallis?

  • paul on January 31, 2013, 11:41 GMT

    cricket is a game of consistency! kallis is the most consistent cricketer ever across all formats! bat balland the field! sir gary was more elegant flashy but kallis played in a struggling batting line up where he sacrificed himself for the team. the past 4 years we have seen him take attacks appart.the fact that he is a saffa has led to him not being appreciated. he is a batsman for all conditions, when he gets 300 wickets what will be said about him them, the problem with fans is that they want flamboyance over consistency, kallis has been the rock of SA cricket. when was kallis off form with the bat????? never, with the ball he has a golden arm.in the slips he has glue in hes hands he is without doubt a king! he is just the most consistent cricketer ever! he will end up with 13000 runs 300 odd wickets and over 200 catches in both formats. how can yous even argue with that??? 50 test hundreds!! Kingkallis south africas finest sportsman and the greatest cricketer ever

  • Peter on January 31, 2013, 10:47 GMT

    Its like comparing Steyn and Philander.I think Philander is far more skilful,but 99% will go with Steyn because he has the one thing Vernon lacks-pace. To most, raw pace is the criteria not skill.Steyn battles to bowl an inswinger effectively and his performances since Vernon came along have been hot and cold.

  • Harvey on January 31, 2013, 6:41 GMT

    Both can do it all and in many respects are similar (especially in batting) except Sobers was obviously more attacking (remember the first to hit 6x6) and capable of bigger innings (365). Sobers was arguably faster when opening the bowling with fast left arm swing but could adapt in the second innings bowling either chinamen or orthodox spin as required (probably why a higher strike rate). Sobers was obviously more versatile and mercurial and is the father of modern professionalism having plied his trade worldwide in those times....thus the archetype of the modern day cricketer. Sobers featured in both weak and strong teams and the word 'genius' was universally applied to him, i have never heard Kallis described thus, as great as he is. Sobers could arguably be described as better than Viv, better than Lara, better than Tendulkar as a batsman....difficult to say that about Kallis. Kallis is a great sportsmn and ambassador for the game though. Sobers by a whisker.

  • Murray Archer on January 31, 2013, 6:36 GMT

    OK OK so no-one will accept (other than Omar :) ) W.G Grace as way better than either of these two. (and far more distinctive in the photogenic world :) ) If you like cricket you should like Grace ! There might never have been international cricket without him. (please watch tennis or something).

    Accept it's not all modern,(if you can) and then have a look at Aubrey Faulkner - South Africa's best ever all rounder. (his test Vs 1st class bowling record "ruined" by Hobbs ! ) While you're at it, look up Graeme Pollock & Dudley Nourse - South Africa's best two batsmen ever. ( yeah I left out Barry Richards)

    Kallis is 3rd rated in his own team currently as a batsman (and isn't a wicket keeper/ batsman an all rounder ?). Has been 2nd or 3rd rated batsman in own team ever since he's been considered great. Before then he was considered a Dravid/Jayawardene/Chanderpaul who bowled a bit ?

  • virk on January 31, 2013, 6:09 GMT

    As long as I know, present always has been an improvement over the past. Cricket has evolved over years. Today's Ferrari is considered just as furious as it was in the 60's. However, the looks and styling has modernized. Similarly, modern cricket is pacey and exciting compared to yesterday. To be fair, the competition is so tough that it would always be a never ending debate. Therefore, IMO it's better if we debate on who has been the best in different eras. Don't care if I upset a few ppl herebut had bradman or sobers faced the bowling of the last 3 decades, they would never have averaged that high. P.s. disastrous article. you are decent writer. Hope you won't come up with such a thoughtless piece again. All the best.

  • Satadru Sen on January 31, 2013, 5:20 GMT

    Useless article. Elitist also. Everyone is knowing that Sobers was artist, like Dali and that well-known mf Husain, and Kallis is handyman, like very good plumber. What is more important, artist or plumber?

  • Harvey on January 31, 2013, 3:55 GMT

    Both can do it all and in many respects are similar (especially in batting) except Sobers was obviously more attacking (remember the first to hit 6x6) and capable of bigger innings (365). Sobers was arguably faster when opening the bowling with fast left arm swing but could adapt in the second innings bowling either chinamen or orthodox spin as required (probably why a higher strike rate). Sobers was obviously more versatile and mercurial and is the father of modern professionalism having plied his trade worldwide in those times....thus the archetype of the modern day cricketer. Sobers featured in both weak and strong teams and the word 'genius' was universally applied to him, i have never heard Kallis described thus, as great as he is. Sobers could arguably be described as better than Viv, better than Lara, better than Tendulkar as a batsman....difficult to say that about Kallis. Kallis is a great sportsmn and ambassador for the game though. Sobers by a whisker.

  • Engle on January 31, 2013, 2:52 GMT

    Here's a question to ponder. Who is the odd-man out from this list : Miller, Sobers, Imran, Hadlee, Botham, Kallis ?

    The answer is Kallis and the reason is because he lacks the flair and flamboyance of the others, an essential trait for an All-Rounder. AR are meant to excite, to attract, to inspire, to make things happen, to spruce up the game and contribute something of note. They are not there for numbers.

    Comparing Sobers to Kallis is like comparing a rock-star to a rock

  • Riaz Shaikh on January 31, 2013, 2:30 GMT

    I believe the article was written tongue-in-cheek, and was more of a commentary on the spectators and the significance of nostalgia, sentiment and flair. And here we are, getting all worked up and burying each other in statistical comparisons. In purely cricketing terms (which is a little different from statistical terms), Sobers pips Kallis. But allround excellence is not about the sum total of batting and bowling (and fielding and captaincy) achievements. If that was the case, Bradman would be greatest allrounder as just his batting is much better than everybody else's batting and bowling put together. The true allrounder whose second skill is better than everybody else's ssecond skill. Undoubtedly, the greatest allrounder ever is Ian Khan. Just so the fanatics don't bay for my blood after drawing a blank for Ian Khan in Statsguru, let me explain. Ian Botham was the greatest genuine allrounder till 1982 and then Imran Khan took over. Let the debates rage, but let us keep it cricket.

  • Meety on January 31, 2013, 2:28 GMT

    @Quentin at January 29, 2013 5:29 PM - I admire Kallis, but the fact is Sobers never played against Zimbabwe or bangladesh, Kallis has. Look at Kallis's stats against those two teams! @Warren at January 29, 2013 7:33 PM - Australians CANNOT be Knighted anymore, hasn't happenned in about THIRTY YEARS!

  • Christopher Persaud on January 30, 2013, 21:44 GMT

    Garfield Sobers might be cricket's greatest all-rounder from a sentimental perspective. Jacques Kallis' consistent performance as an all-rounder for a much longer duration than Sobers' tenure, and the his overwhelming statistics relative to his batting and bowling logically must place him as the game's premier all-rounder.

    Sobers' bowling statistics are mediocre compared with what might be expected of a first-rate bowler. While Kallis' bowling statistics are not much better, the latter's 42 test centuries and a 50+ batting average over an inordinately long period of time augurs much better for batsmanship honors over the West Indian cricketing maestro. Sobers was an excellent fielder, as Kallis has been for many years.

    In the end, Kallis' excellence over a longer period of cricketing activity (and he continues to dazzle) wins out! I do not think that Garry Sobers could have lasted so long and perform consistently at a level as high as Kallis'.

  • gujratwalla on January 30, 2013, 20:39 GMT

    As someone who has seen both Sobers and Kallis in action i think it is meanigless to compare cricketers of different eras as many things have changed over the last 45 years odd like pitches,players power,earnings,equipment,cricket formats etc.Sobers was my hero in my youth primaly because i believe a great batsman is one who can take on all kind of bowlers on every type of pitches;my yardstick has been a batsman who can tear apart a genuine fast bowler and here i have never in living memory seen anyone do that apart from Sobers or Viv Richards and remember those were pre.helmet days.I once heard Michael Holding say the batsmen of today would have been dead in his times the way they get hit about their heads wearing protective headgear.Kallis is a fine all rounder of TODAY,headgear and all and no doubt his achievements are laudible but Imran Khan,Ian Botham,Kapil Dev were also great all rounders on par with Kallis but none achieved what Sobers did....master the realy fast bowlers.

  • Warren on January 30, 2013, 20:38 GMT

    @ josh

    Well done sir ... I think you post is the most informative of all (even the article I dare say) and will go a long way to silencing his detractors. There are more than a few modern players that are giving there generations great all rounder the credit he is due. KP is also on record saying greatest ever. Unfortunately the likes of Chappell belong to a generation that seems stuck or lost in there nostalgia of the "in my day" syndrome. Chappell has over the years been one of Kallis's big critics when in fact he is too arrogant to even look at the stats and facts you pointed out in your post. He is arrogant (just ask Botham) and hates all things South African. Anyway who puts weight on a opinion of a 43 averaging so called expert. Arrogant Aussie

    This notion that if you didn't live to see bradman or sobers you don't qualify for an opinion is rubbish. I would have added that he had to face warne and Murili more than sobers did and still averages 56.

  • chris on January 30, 2013, 20:17 GMT

    What a wonderfully thorough analysis by the 82 year old English gentleman. I must say I am surprised that he rates Kallis in the top 4 batsmen of all time at the expense of Graeme Pollock. On the subject of all rounders, I would be interested to know the gentleman´s opinion regarding Mike Procter: FWIW,I put him in the top 5, along with Miller and Imran.

  • chris on January 30, 2013, 20:17 GMT

    What a wonderfully thorough analysis by the 82 year old English gentleman. I must say I am surprised that he rates Kallis in the top 4 batsmen of all time at the expense of Graeme Pollock. On the subject of all rounders, I would be interested to know the gentleman´s opinion regarding Mike Procter: FWIW,I put him in the top 5, along with Miller and Imran.

  • Dipak Basu on January 30, 2013, 19:51 GMT

    When did the best allrounder become a two-horse debate? The five greats are Sobers, Kallis, Imran, Botham and Miller. Sobers and Kallis were all-time great top-order batsmen who bowled test-class but were not spearheads. Imran was that spearhead, an all-time great bowler, captain, and capable middle/late order batsman. Botham and Miller OTOH would be included for batting and bowling anytime, anywhere - truly great allrounders. And if you think Sobers had style and charisma, you haven't known Keith Miller.

  • Thinlay chophel bhutia on January 30, 2013, 19:49 GMT

    The best allrounder that the game has undoubtedly seen is the one and only Jacques Henry Kallis.He is a super human cricketer performing all 3 VITAL acts in the game.kallis is supreme and genius would be an under statement.The writer can in no way say that he is dodgy!!!Infact no one can be compared with him in terms of ability and longetivity.What a player!!!all hail KALLIS...

  • anah on January 30, 2013, 19:41 GMT

    yuvraj, tendulkar and ganguly have won more games with the ball for india than kallis has for sa, so despite his 270-odd wickets, he is not a match-winner in limited overs cricket atleast....and that is why sobers is a greater all rounder than kallis... i would say kallis is to sobers what tendulkar is to bradman... a close second

  • Jimmy on January 30, 2013, 19:34 GMT

    Any writer worth his salt should know better. You put two Gods aside before you compare others. These are Sir Donald Bradman and Sir Garry Sobers. These are not to be put on the same pedestal as any other cricketer. Sir Garry batted bowled both spin and pace and fielded like a champion. Only jhonty could excel him in fielding. And above all he finished with over 7,000 Runs and batting average of 57.00 ! How many batsmen have averaged 57 ? And add to this over 200 wickets. Sir Garry was a legend. Please do not ridicule yourself by comparing him with Kallis. Case closed. Jimmy

  • Gerrard on January 30, 2013, 19:18 GMT

    Why would anyone even attempt to compare the incomparable Sir Garfield Sobers to any other cricketer who has lived or will evr live. Simply an exercise in futility. Poor kallis just not fair to him to stack him up against Sobers, even he said as much. The last time he was asked about comparison between him and Sobers his response was "please please can you guys find ANYONE else to compare me with? ANYONE at all? It is just not fair to compare me to Sobers on any level." For that response alone I place Kallis way above any other cricketer save for Sobers.

  • stuart on January 30, 2013, 17:54 GMT

    For me there are four all-rounders in the debate: Sobers, Kallis, Imran and Botham. Of players with 10 centuries, Botham is way ahead on 5-fors. Of players with 10 5-fors, Botham is way ahead on centuries. As far as I know, no other player else has 10 of each and yet Botham has 14 and 27 respectively. Century and a 5-for in the match ? Botham 5, Sobers and Kallis 2 each, Imran 1. Botham was the only one of the four who would have kept his place in the team solely with either discipline for much of his career. Imran's late career batting elevates him, but 2 hundreds in his first 50 matches makes him a bowling allrounder for much of his career. As the allrounder who most often dominated a game with either discipline, theres Botham and then the rest. Sobers was the greatest batsman of a generation, Kallis may well finish with the greatest run aggregate of all time, and Imran was surely just as cool and inspirational as Sir Garry.

  • Joel on January 30, 2013, 16:48 GMT

    Oh puhlease! To say that Kallis does not look classy... stodgy? This writer throws around words he dug out of his Roget's. In my opinion... Kallis is supreme.

  • Ziggy on January 30, 2013, 16:45 GMT

    Someone commented that he would rather watch Sobers bat than Kallis. Really? Only if you like to watch a lot of running between wickets! The facts are that Kallis scores far more sixes and fours per innings than Sobers ever did.And he batted 3/4 not 6.There is no comparison when it comes to bowling. Kallis is at least 30 to 40% better!!!. Look at the stats. Someone else said that Sobers bowled long spells and kept the batsmen quiet. HELLO,HELLO!!!. Forgive my stupidity but I want my bowlers to take wickets not keep the batsmen in. So the longer he bowled, the more ineffective Sobers was! Kallis is a superb stroke player but does not do unnecessary flourishes. His cover driving is just incredible. A coaching manual in action. Stop this nostalgia nonsense about Sobers. I saw him play many,many times and he was a great player. But Kallis is a class above. Time we accept that and give King Kallis his full due. He is simply the best ever cricketer to play the game.

  • Josh on January 30, 2013, 16:29 GMT

    Lets forget all the subjective personal and biased opinion from all the old boys - the ones who will always say everything was better in their days. Cold hard facts from official stats. Take Kallis. Start with the criticisms that he was slow and boring and often played just for himself and not the team. Myths but repeated so often without justification that they are now apparently set in stone. I am 82 and have been fortunate to seen most of the greats. And being a proud Englishmen I would rather support the case of England's cricketers but at least I am prepared to look at the facts. Start with slow and boring and explain the following:- 1. Fastest to 13,000 test runs 2. Fastest 50 in test cricket. 2nd only to Tendulkar in no of test centuries - in far fewer innings. 3. 2nd most sixes in test cricket history. Only the amazing Gilchrist is better. Averages more sixes per test than Sobers - almost 33% more! His average number of 4's per test innings is almost 50% greater than Sobers!!! Over a much greater period of time. Summary - he averages more 6's and more 4's per test innings - by a long way - than Sobers ever did. So where does this myth about his lack of attacking batting come from? Swashbuckling Sobers? Must have been the running between wickets that excited everyone so much. And he did not bat No 6 as did Sobers - which is much more comfortable position and where you are often get to score fast again tired bowlers etc. His no. of 4's per innings is on a par with Viv Richards and he is only marginally behind on average 6's per innings vs Viv as well. Yet you see comments about Sobers being "electrifying". I saw him play many,many times. He was stylish, elegant and a great batsman but not "electrifying". Viv was electrifying, as was Gilchrist. So the simple facts are there for all to see. You want flamboyance or you want results? Look at the scoreboard. And let us not forget that Kallis is acknowledged as perfection re the coaching manual on batting. His cover driving is just superb - without any flamboyance or seeming effort of course, so rarely mentioned. Maximum result with minimum effort. He is not flamboyant or showy. Thats his problem. He needs a good PR person to showcase him! As a batsman he rates behind Tendulkar but only marginally. He is certainly in the top 4 batsmen of all time. (Bradman,Tendulkar,Lara,Kallis) 4. For his first 6 years he batted at No3 - and most times really opened because of brittle batting. For at least 10 years he held the SA side together because of their brittle batting so had to be patient to help build a reasonable total. Yet his run rate is only marginally behind Tendulkar and Ponting. In the last 5 years his run rate is superior to both of them. Certainly superior to Sobers. 5. 283 test wickets - strike rate ahead of Sobers. Numerous times he has broken key partnerships that turned a game. Almost 40% of his wickets are from the top 5 batsman. 70% of his wickets are from top 7 batsmen. Yet you still read nonsense about he gets his wickets from tailenders! 6. First 7 years he was 1st change fast bowler and often bowled long spells. For many years he operated as a genuine fast bowler 140kmph plus. His strike rate is far superior to Sobers. Not a little better - significantly better. 7. Over 200 test catches - unquestionably a great slip fielder. In probably the most difficult slip position - second slip. 8. Played against all the best fast bowlers and spinners in world on all pitches in all countries. 9. One of best players in other formats such as ODI and T20 - tremendous versatility. 10. SA has most friendly pitches in world for fast bowlers and Kallis has had to play a lot there. 11. Only in last 5 years has he been able to relax more because SA now has a strong batting line up. Kallis now averaging over 60 in tests at strike rates greater than Ponting/Tendulkar. 12. Second only to Bradman in number of consecutive test hundreds 13. Contrary to nonsense written, when Kallis posts a hundred, SA usually win the match. So much for the repeated rubbish about that he does not win matches and plays for himself. Then there is bowling and catching.......... 14. Easily the best cricketer in the history of the game and, because of his quiet, modest approach, is not given his full due. Ian Chappell, for example, wrote a long article about the modern batting greats (Lara,Tendulkar,Ponting) and did not even mention Kallis! I'll take Lara's judgement any day, any time about Kallis.

    "He is awesome. When he got out I went up to him and told him it was the greatest batting I've ever experienced, for or against."

    Brian Lara on Jacques Kallis

  • Anonymous on January 30, 2013, 16:14 GMT

    @kiwirocker

    People dont consider zaheer abbas, imran khan as greats as both of them benefitted a lot coz of biased umpiring in pakistan and the ball tempering wch these people used to do......

  • Humungousfungus on January 30, 2013, 14:42 GMT

    I am lucky enough to have seen both play in the flesh, and there is no debate for me. Sobers was talent personified, everything he did was totally natural. Kallis is more a testament to the power of will and technique (and the paucity of Test match bowling in the 21st century). Although speculation is largely pointless, I cannot help feeling that if Sobers were playing in his prime now, in an era of covered pitches, restrictions on short pitched bowling, shortened boundaries, enhanced protective equipment, and incredible, incredible cricket bats, then his average would be closer to Bradman's than it would be to Kallis's.

  • grant on January 30, 2013, 13:53 GMT

    This is an impossible thing to do. You cannot compare 2 different eras as they do not face the same bowling. That time there were no video annalysis of bowlers and batsman. The fitness and skill levels were not the same. balls and bats are not the same not even the rules are the same. Umpiring was done by the home team and not like today by other contries and then there is DRS now. All I know they are both great players of their era and should be remembered as greats. If we compare them to the way they scored runs and we conclude that sobers is best then surely we must say that Sehwag is better that tendulkar as sehwag scores faster but we know he is just a slogger with no technique. His eyes are going and he's ot nothing to fall back on like someone like kallis with a sound technique. I would pick a guy that is going to give me consistant runs over a guy who wins me 1 game out of 20. thats why its a team sport.

  • grant on January 30, 2013, 13:53 GMT

    This is an impossible thing to do. You cannot compare 2 different eras as they do not face the same bowling. That time there were no video annalysis of bowlers and batsman. The fitness and skill levels were not the same. balls and bats are not the same not even the rules are the same. Umpiring was done by the home team and not like today by other contries and then there is DRS now. All I know they are both great players of their era and should be remembered as greats. If we compare them to the way they scored runs and we conclude that sobers is best then surely we must say that Sehwag is better that tendulkar as sehwag scores faster but we know he is just a slogger with no technique. His eyes are going and he's ot nothing to fall back on like someone like kallis with a sound technique. I would pick a guy that is going to give me consistant runs over a guy who wins me 1 game out of 20. thats why its a team sport.

  • Warren on January 30, 2013, 13:45 GMT

    Last word

    Best batsmen .... Bradman 99 average Best bowler ... Mulilitharan 800 wickets Best all rounder .... Kallis 32 all rounder rating

    That's how it's been judged throughout history and no black and white pictures of Sobers, botham or any other pretenders will change that.

    Thx for participating in a useless debate. Good night and good luck

  • Kennedy Jayaraman on January 30, 2013, 13:30 GMT

    First of all i feel sad for King Kallis that its very unfortunate that he was born in Sout Africa ... No one talks about the Bradman / Sachin saga just b'caz the later is considered as "GOD" ... Imagine if the person with so many runs / wickets / catches etc. was born in India God only knows(U BET HE IS STILL YOUNGER THAN THE GOD himself) ... Sobers was a great in his age and King Kallis the Great in contemporary cricket and lets treat both with due respect and wish King Kallis goes miles to conquer more boundries in modern cricket. "Lets give the Devil its due"

  • prashant on January 30, 2013, 13:18 GMT

    Pathetic article, comparing one with other w/o acknowledging the different time era they were in. and to praise one you don't have to criticize the other.

  • Neo Galactico on January 30, 2013, 13:14 GMT

    Yes Sobers could win games with the bat but did he really win it with the ball with a strike rate of 91? Statistically Kallis trumps Sobers with ball and Sobers does so with bat. Kallis plays in a batsman friendly era so he should have better bowling stats but he doesn't. Sobers played in a bowler friendly era and yet he has ordinary bowling stats regardless of him being able to bowl in different styles. So my vote goes to Kallis as my contemporary. In the future fans who haven't seen Kallis bat will look at his stats and declare him the best ever as we do Sobers whom most of us didn't see.

  • Morgan Grant on January 30, 2013, 12:36 GMT

    The issue of who was the best bowler, batsman, all-rounder, captain, fielder et. al. will always bring out the best and worst of supporters and detractors. My late father was involved in cricket at club, provincial and national level as a scorer and many mealtimes were spent discussing this player and that team. I remember my dad waxing lyrically about Bradman, Sobers, Khan, Richards, Barlow, Proctor, Graeme and Peter Pollock, etc etc. I also vividly remember a phone call with him in the early 90's when he proudly announced the signing of Jacques Kallis at Claremont Cricket Club and told me that this young man "will be one of the greats." The point of all of this is that he (and must of us) live and breathe cricket and its heroes and villains. Kallis and Sobers are two mighty impressive cricketers and I believe that neither of the gentlemen concerned make claim to the title of best all rounder, so we should respect that and laud their achievements and continue to love the game.

  • Shantanu Sen Sharma on January 30, 2013, 12:33 GMT

    I think it is a question of elegance and grace versus strength and utility. Statistics will never bring out the complete tale. However Sobers batting lower in the order may get an average boost by virtue of not outs. Let us also bear in mind that as a bowler Kallis had Pollock, Donald, Steyn etc, around which his team created more pressure on the opposition. I do think the SA bowling attack was marginally better than Hall, Griffith, Gibbs and co that Sobers bowled with. At least over a longer period of time

  • Lifeguru on January 30, 2013, 11:08 GMT

    The debate here is intriguing and the arguments presented would give any university statistics class a prime example of how changing statistical models can be manipulated to achieve the desired yet predetermined result. Ultimately, the comparison must be a like for like comparison and should positivist in its frame of reference- use statistics and opinions. But they must be of the same nature and questions; this makes it impossible to make an accurate comparison.

    But as a South Afrcan, I can say that we ahve always felt safe and happy that things will be safe on the cricket field as long as King Kallis is there. Whether he was walking out to bat or in the field waiting to bowl, he has given us security and for that I will, in my partisan way, say he is MY greatest. I like to think the West Indies supporters of the Sobers era felt the same way.

  • Nathan on January 30, 2013, 10:04 GMT

    What utter nonsense, what lazy journalism. Kallis and Sobers are classes apart from other cricketers, and also from one another, as they are separated by decades. Shoddy excuse for an article.

  • KiwiRocker on January 30, 2013, 9:38 GMT

    I got couple of issues. If you start involving aesthetics and how a player is perceived to be 'beautiful and graceful' then comparison becomes subjective. Based on that flawed logic Zaheer Abbas with his artistic stroke play will be miles ahead of Javed Miandad and VVS Laxman better than Gavaskar ( sadly Tendulkar belongs no where as he failed to win anything). Only objective way to evaluate will be based on stats and data. Kallis hands down wins that contest, however, comparing Kallis and Sobers is really a moot point as they never played in the same era. My other issue is that since when it is a two way race? Imran Khan was arguably the best all rounder of 80's and 90's and Imran Khan had something that neither Kallis not Sobers had that he actually was a fine fine leader too. Is not leadership a core quality and trait of a complete cricketer? Based on that Imran Khan is the most complete cricketer ever!

  • Ricardo on January 30, 2013, 8:49 GMT

    I've never seen anything of Sir Gary Sobers. I've always thought that comparisons between generations are difficult to achieve because there are too many variables to take into account. For all the comments that elevate Sobers' worth above that of Kallis, can we not consider also that the professional era of cricket has eliminated many of the less capable players that may have been around in Sobers' time- or before things really became professional? Seems to be a lot more science and competition for spots in today's game. It occurs to me that an average player of this generation may indeed be better than an average player of a previous generation. No doubt that both Kallis and Sobers are exceptional players of their generation, but is Kallis perhaps consistently playing against faster, fitter, more focused and well managed opposition than Sir Gary would have come across? And if Kallis had less capable bowling mates he may have had more opportunity to bowl too...

  • john on January 30, 2013, 8:47 GMT

    Incidentally against top 3 teams Steve Waugh averaged 45 and 38. Kallis-Waugh is comparable. Kallis-Sobers is laughable

  • Vikram on January 30, 2013, 8:43 GMT

    Has Kallis ever in his career played a knock like the 254 Sobers made against Lilee and friends at the MCG? Sobers played many such knocks during his career. It is pure stupidity to give averages and statistics too much weight when talking about great cricketers. Cricket is a game that is watched for entertainment. Most importance should be given to those cricketers who can entertain, while doing the main job of helping their teams to victories. If there are 2 players (say Sobers and Kallis) who have both been pivotal to their teams over fairly long careers, then the better one for me is the one who could entertain. Honestly how many of you are saying you would pay money to watch a Kallis knock over 4 hours compared to a Sobers knock? Chanderpaul has a higher average than Viv Richards, so does that mean he is a greater batsman?

  • jameshuck on January 30, 2013, 8:15 GMT

    I have seen them both, live a number of times. Sir Gary is way above anybody. He was a complete cricketer and an all rounder. You forgot to mention his spin bowling. He was the greatest of all time. And he also recorded the very first 6 6's in an over against Nash of Glamorgan. Neither Kallis nor Imran comes any way near. They are great in their own ways.

  • Krishna on January 30, 2013, 8:01 GMT

    It is probably a matter of semantics, but I think it would be good if we distinguished between the best allrounder and the greatest one. Although I have never seen Sobers live,I do feel he was the best allrounder. He made batting, fielding and bowling look like a piece of cake, largely because he was a supreme athlete. Much like our own Kapil Dev. There was a kind of swashbuckling quality about his batting and an effortlessness in bowling and fielding primarily because of his athleticism. Added to this his ability to bowl spin and pace with a chinaman to boot, one gets the feeling there is NOTHING Sobers could not do!!!Kallis, to my mind would be the greatest allrounder. his stats are mind boggling. Today's cricket being what it is - a year long activity with various formats thrown in - physically it is incredibly demanding, not to speak of the changes in technique and temperament. Kallis has been exceptional. He is so energetic, so consistent and just so GOOD!!!Hats off mate!

  • Joe K on January 30, 2013, 7:41 GMT

    Ask any under 20 year old boy in the world who is his cricket hero and 90% of the time it will not be Sir Garfield Sobers. It does not go about the past but the current player(s) and that is what comparison has to be made. Who of the current players are influencing our boys and girls, not past players. This is an argument for the grandpa's of the game. The game moves on and soon JK will retire and a new player will rise and possibly they will be compared to JK.

  • Omar on January 30, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    People forget about another great. As great and dominant as sobers. Just of a different generation . W.g. Grace.

  • Kunal Talgeri on January 30, 2013, 6:38 GMT

    Television and print media betray more of Kallis' ugly moments than Sir Garry Sobers'. I sincerely believe that the photos of Sobers that have survived time are only the nice ones. It is inevitable. On the contrary, we have seen Kallis hammer sixes, hit elegant and ugly boundaries, retire hurt, fight bad form -- all in live action TV. So we tend to underestimate how the cricket media would have captured his frame if he played in Sir Garry Sobers' time. His batting stance is solid, though I suppose his imposing frame makes Sobers' lean physique more photogenic. Still, Kallis gets a raw deal from onlookers in the Age of 24x7 coverage.

  • john on January 30, 2013, 5:25 GMT

    Stats of top allrounders against the top best 3 teams of their respective generation: Sobers: 60 with the bat, 32 with the ball Miller: 38 and 23 Imran: 33 and 23 Hadlee 26 and 22

    These players are all match winners in the top tier of either bowling or batting and still effective with their other skill. Sobers is outstanding with bat and good enough to lead the bowling lineup too.

    Kallis stats against top 3 teams: 45 with the bat, 36 with the ball With the bat he's solid. With the ball he's a handy 4th seamer. You'd like to have a player like him in your team. You'd hope to have at least one batsman with a better average though and you'd never pin your hopes on his bowling.

    However he's clearly nowhere near Sobers, let alone the others mentioned, Miller, Imran and Hadlee

  • Lucas on January 30, 2013, 4:22 GMT

    The truth is that Sobers is far better even on stats: if you take Kallis' figures without tests against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh he is at 54 with the bat and over 35 with the ball. Sobers rose to the occasion and his worst performances were against the weakest team in world cricket at the time, New Zealand, whereas Kallis has a field day against the minnows, but has only been average against the stronger teams of his generation, Australia, England and Sri Lanka. QED

  • Prinesh Govender on January 30, 2013, 4:00 GMT

    @Posted by: Ahmed Hassan at January 30, 2013 2:04 AM:

    "I personally believe Kallis is not a genuine All Rounder."

    With all due respect Sir, I personally believe that you have absolutely no clue what you are talking about.

    As a South African who didn't even get to watch Sobers, I'll gladly take the word of those who have seen both (Kallis and Sobers) that Sobers is better.

    HOWEVER, I think its fairly well-known that Dev is not even in the league as Kallis. Whereas Khan and Kallis are probably on a similar level.

  • Anonymous on January 30, 2013, 3:54 GMT

    Totally agree that aesthetics and sublime looks are equally important. If you (i.e. all the grown up men out there) have trouble understanding this, honestly answer this question - two girls ask you out - one is beautiful and the other, well, lets just say not too pleasing to the eyes. Whom would you go out with? Fact remains that people flock(ed) to see Sobers, Viv, Tendulkar and Sehwag - not so much Dravid and Kallis.

    Ponting may come close to Tendulkar, not the other way around! I can count 4-5 instances when Ponting's innings made some difference to his side. And besides how can a batsman who is a bunny to an average bowler like Harbhajan be great?? The fact remains that he got 6 opportunities in one series to improve, he could not - surely not a sign of greatness. Great batsmen fix their problems. Dravid could'nt fix his "bowled" problems either. Atleast he was at the end unklike RP. In reality people laugh at Bradman and Viv when they question the assessment of SRT from them.

  • Peeyush Yadav on January 30, 2013, 3:52 GMT

    The only man comes very close to Sir Gary Sobers is Imran Khan, not Kallis. It will be better firstly to compare Kallis to Imran before jumping to Sir Gary. Imran prinicpal art was fast bowling and at the peak of his powers in eightees he was delight to watch, master of reverse swing, and best bowler alongwith Malcolm marshall. Imran as fast bowler did very well against best team (West Indies) of his era and arch rival India. Kallis principal art is batting and looks little boring, despite scoring tons of runs and hundreds , Sachin, Lara and Ponting are rated above to him as batsman. Unlike Imran he has not done well great against best team(Australia) of his era. Imran not lost single series against West Indies while Kallis never looked to win a single match against Australia. So here Imran as bowler leads over Kallis as batsman. Imran as test Batsman averages 37, which is equal to Kallis taking 2 wickets per test match. Imran was great leader of men while Kallis better fielder.

  • Springbok 707 on January 30, 2013, 3:03 GMT

    Having read all the above comments, i wonder who stopped to ask this critical question about Sobers versus Kallis. Notwithstanding their innate gifts and achievements, who between them was a match winner? Who was a game changer by their batting and bowling? At the end of a test series, whose name was foremost as the ultimate decider of the outcome? Answer that question and you'll arrive at your answer.

  • Ahmed Hassan on January 30, 2013, 2:04 GMT

    Are you kidding me. Why in the world would you compare Kallis to Sobers When everyone knows Sobers is a better All Rounder. I personally believe Kallis is not a genuine All Rounder. Its a insult to everything Sobers,Khan,Dev achieved to compare Kallis with Sobers. No doubt about kallis's batting achievement but i believe his bowling achievements are not quite good enough to recognize him as a genuine All Rounder. Kallis is nothing more than a great cricketer. No more. No Less. When Kallis in his last 10 years ahs same stats as Sobers or Khan then you may abuse me as much as you like, until then.Ciao

  • carlton davis on January 30, 2013, 1:43 GMT

    Check Sobers'record in his three seasons of Sheffield Cup cricket,then one of the toughest in all of cricket,Test or First Class.He was the fitst person in more than 80years of Australian cricket to score the Australian double of 1000 runs and 50 wickets and he did it twice.How many batsmen have played innings comparable to the 132 at Brisbane,113 n/o at Kingston and 254 at Melbourne. As to bowling Cricinfo has carried statistics showing how impressive his figures were during his peak.As someone once wrote,Sobers pleased both the aesthete and the statitician.I would say that Kallis pleases the latter, definitely not the former. For me it is Sobers,Imran and Keith Miller in that order

  • carlton davis on January 30, 2013, 1:43 GMT

    Check Sobers'record in his three seasons of Sheffield Cup cricket,then one of the toughest in all of cricket,Test or First Class.He was the fitst person in more than 80years of Australian cricket to score the Australian double of 1000 runs and 50 wickets and he did it twice.How many batsmen have played innings comparable to the 132 at Brisbane,113 n/o at Kingston and 254 at Melbourne. As to bowling Cricinfo has carried statistics showing how impressive his figures were during his peak.As someone once wrote,Sobers pleased both the aesthete and the statitician.I would say that Kallis pleases the latter, definitely not the former. For me it is Sobers,Imran and Keith Miller in that order

  • Murray Archer on January 30, 2013, 0:18 GMT

    WG Grace must be the best ever allrounder.

    Has anyone else ever had a 1st class career batting average / bowling average of 2.17 ? Further, Grace scored 34,757 more runs and took 2,389 more wickets and 619 more catches than Kallis has.

    While Mr Chopra was not talking about statistics - who here will say Kallis is statistically better than Grace ?

    Nice to see that Grace will become the new pinup boy of the modern statistically driven generation :)

  • chris on January 30, 2013, 0:10 GMT

    It´s hard for someone who didn´t live in those times to fully comprehend the impact that Sobers had: Sobers WAS cricket. He, along with Pollock, was far and away the best batsman of the 60´s.. Kallis is probably slightly behind Lara and Tendulkar and on a par with Ponting and Dravid. As a bowler Sober´s variety makes him undoubtedy more useful. Also, I have no doubt that Mike Procter would have been up there with Miller and Imran if he´d been given the opportunities.

  • Liam on January 29, 2013, 22:51 GMT

    I agree with Mike, this sort of debate is one of the things that I love about the game. There are so many intricacies involved, it is never going to be black and white, and there will always be the 'X factor' involved too. I think a lot of people are right, Kallis has been quietly achieving unbelievable results. Hats off to the man, he will certainly become a legend of the game. It may be nostalgia - but in my opinion, Sobers was such a treat. He had such an aura and impact on games, that he could single handedly take away the game from the opposition with either bat or ball - which was why it was always exciting to see him come on. For me, it is in the same way that Wasim and/or Waqar could and more often did control games, you always sat up and took notice when they came on to bowl.

  • Longmemory on January 29, 2013, 22:40 GMT

    Two points which haven't quite made it into the discussion yet - unless I missed them. First, Sir Garry was a lefty. Say what you will, most southpaws bring an elegance to everything on the cricket field (I had to say "most" because of the likes of Graeme Smith, Justin Langer, Gautam Gambhir etc)that righties can rarely match. Second, Sir Garry did all his batting without a helmet. I have never understood why people underestimate the huge impact the helmet has had on batting. Its one thing to face a fast bowler knowing come-what-may I am not gonna get killed. Its a completely different thing walking in to bat knowing that could happen. My preference for Sir Garry hinges to some degree on these counts. Btw, I agree that any discussion of the greatest allrounders of all-time (not that Samir is doing that here - he's not) has to include Imran. And on aesthetic grounds, Imran rivals Sir Garry - and leaves stodgy old Kallis in the dust.

  • Anonymous on January 29, 2013, 21:29 GMT

    Chopra, this is the best article you have ever written. People like 'Anonymous' always respond with nonsense. Stats on the surface describing quantitative numbers that almost have no real value or significant meahing is one thing. On the contrary, stats that highlight figures of real value is the real thing. For example, Tendulkar has made the most runs and most 100s in test cricket; but you can barely count all the fingers on one hand, the number of times these runs and 100s contributed to his team winning. While nearly every run and hundred that Ricky Pontin made contributed to Australia winning. Yet, the Indians would like to think that Tendulkar was as good as Pontin. And the most laughable thing, sometimes they even think that he is in the class of Bradman, Viv Richards, Sobers and Lara!

  • Mike on January 29, 2013, 21:18 GMT

    All very interesting - as a South African, I could easily be biased towards Kallis - but lets pause and think of facts! In tennis, many claim Federer is the greatest - but he is of the modern generation; in golf, many claim Woods to be the greatest - again of the modern generation. Cricket is a very special sport - we are lucky to be graced by many former and current greats - you can never compare them, just as Lara/Tendulkar would never be able to say which of their innings was their finest nor Warne/Donald/Marshall say which of their bowling efforts was their greatest. Long live the sport and may the debates continue!

  • lalith on January 29, 2013, 20:38 GMT

    No way you can compare them. They played too many year apart and game has changed a lot. The conditions are totally different,equipment training all that in favor of the modern day players. If you compare abilities and on the field valve to the team. Sir Garry can do anything you can ask from a player. He can bat at any number and bowl that all the bowlers can and much more. He was one of the best close in fielders that game has produced. He is one of a kind complete cricketer that came along for a long long time. I don't think you can compare him to anyone. Bradman and Tendulkar they both are great batsmen nothing more.Sir Garry is the greatest allrounder cricket has seen so far.

  • riverbaby11 on January 29, 2013, 20:24 GMT

    @skroebels - you make a good point about Indian bias on this site; but if Kallis were black , he would have never played for SA this long. You guys would have dropped him after his bad debut..Cheers

    ---Posted by: skroebels at January 29, 2013 12:06 PM

    ---If Kallis was indian, he would have been rated as the best of all ---time on this site. Case closed!

  • james on January 29, 2013, 20:17 GMT

    What a waste of time. Kallis is right up there. And I feel he did way better than sachin and has won SA more matches than him.

  • Vasanth Kumar on January 29, 2013, 20:03 GMT

    The STYLE with which Sobers batted bowled or fielded was beyond comparison. The way he sauntered in to bat was itself a treat. Please do not bring in the others, great they might be, and please do not let nationalism colour anyone's views

  • Sameer on January 29, 2013, 19:46 GMT

    I have never seen Sir Gary bat or play, so aesthetically speaking, some of us have little input to go on. But personally I would never put Kallis on the same pedestal as even a Sachin, Lara or maybe even Ponting simply because irrespective of what stats say, as an Indian fan you never really 'feared' Kallis. I believe that the best way to judge a player (and people are welcome to disagree and they will)is to measure how much opposition fears him. I obviously do not know what the Indian team felt, but I never really worried about Kallis taking a big match at a big moment away from us. Again, it is just maybe what one person felt, but somehow he never felt like South Africa's 'top guy', let alone that of world cricket.

  • Warren on January 29, 2013, 19:33 GMT

    If he doesn't hail from Australia or England and has not been bestowed a SIR (as was the case with Sobers) he goes unnoticed there. If he isn't the master from India or has a surname Khan he doesn't get noticed in Asia. The most interesting stat is that at 10000 runs he averaged better as a batter than Tendulkar, Ponting, Lara at the same stage and still does. Just in batting. Forget the 290 wickets and all those catches. No ones averaged better in 20 odd years in batting alone. And as for the contention that his strike rate is low, its higher than Dravid or Border (so called legends in those parts) If Aussie or Pom, he would have been knighted five years ago. If in Asia he would be an anointed a god by now.

    Look at how the Poms hail KP? Why ? He wears the three lions. At the end of the day stats cant be biased and he simply is the greatest ever. Solely responsible for SA being rated 1 or 2 in tests and ODIs for some 18 years now, only Warne stopped it being total domination

  • Quentin on January 29, 2013, 17:29 GMT

    @ Boll, the fact that Sir Garry was number one for so long suggests that there was not someone to challenge him during that era, do not get me wrong he was brilliant cricketer. Sir G played in 93 tests and 1 odi and 478 games in other legues for a total of 572 games in a 20 year period, Kallis has played 160 tests and 321 odi's and 547 games in other legues for a total of 1028 games. so Kallis has put his body through almost double the stress than Sir G in less time and he is still playing. if you look at the percentagages of there 50's and 100's they are equal on the 50's 16% and Kallis has a 3% better average at 21% than Sir G when it comes to 100's. Kallis gained these percentages over 270 inn's over sir G's 160. KALLIS HAS PLAYED MORE GAMES HAS A BETTER PERCENTAGE THAN SIR G AND IS STILL PLAYING, SO i WOULD REALY LIKE TO ASK THOSE WHO WANT TO COMPARE, LOOK AT THE FIGURES!! But as I earlier said, compare apples to apples you cannot compare players of different times to each other!

  • Sam on January 29, 2013, 17:19 GMT

    Most people said abt the black and white elegent pictures of Sobers.u can see a thousands of elegent pictures of Kallis while driving through covers with copy book style and with ideal cricketing footworks..how on the Earth, pictures are the perameters in cricket to judge someone's contribution to the game and his stats.In modern day cricket it is very hard to be fit for the hefty cricketing schedule where you have to play average 50, 60 games an year and Kallis is always there for the team.i didnt watch Sobers but i hv closely followed South African cricket for last 15 years.Kallis is the backbone of SA cricket for long long time.great servant of the game with great gentmen's atittude always.this article is just a waste of time. Simply Kallis is King of cricket with bat, bowl and fielding.

  • Boll on January 29, 2013, 17:06 GMT

    In terms of bowling, (again based on ICC end-of-year rankings), Sobers finished in the Top 10 every year but one between 1962-1973, Kallis has finished in the Top 10 once in his career (2002). I don`t want to play the bad-guy `Kallis-hater` here, because I have immense respect for him as a cricketer. He just seems to get better with age, and his durability and consistent excellence have been remarkable. However, I think some people are going a little over the top in calling him the greatest cricketer/all-rounder that`s lived, or one of `the best 2 or 3 batsmen to have played the game`??

  • Boll on January 29, 2013, 16:34 GMT

    @alanm. No, I clearly stated I was only looking at year-end rankings (not quite sure how to work out total weeks at No.1) simply because it seemed a fairly reasonable point to choose. I`ve also just had a look at month-end rankings throughout 2004 (Lara, Hayden, Dravid all feature...no Kallis). You`re right that Kallis was ranked NO.1 for much of 2005, although Ponting finished top at the end of the year.

    However we look at it, it seems obvious that Sobers was the best batsman in the world for a generation, something probably only Bradman can also lay claim to. Kallis has been amongst the Top 5-10 for a similar period of time.

  • siddharth rajoria on January 29, 2013, 16:31 GMT

    For me, kallis is the best cricketer to have ever played this wonderful game. I take his name above Sachin, above Bradman and above many other great contributors including Sir Garry Sobers who have given their lives to cricket and made it the game it is today. His consummate all round skills are unmatched. Some might be better batsmen, some others might be better bowlers but the feat of scoring above 10000 runs and taking more than 250 wickets in both forms of the game looks beyond human capabilities and this man,through his determination and the love for the game has made the impossible possible. He plays the most admirable cover drives, the most classy looking pulls and when his country needs, he rolls his arm over and reach 140kmph with ease striking when the team needs the most (not forgetting to take into account his contributions as a slip fielder).With no intentions to disparage the skills of the legends that this game has produced, Kallis stands one step ahead of the rest

  • alanm on January 29, 2013, 15:34 GMT

    Boll is incorrect, or is perhaps tweaking the numbers to suit himself by referring only to "end of year rankings". A look at Kallis' ranking graph shows he was #1 for most of 2004 and 2005 and touched there again in 2011. Still not a good as Sobers, but also a reflection of the worldwide batting strength of the 90's and 00's.

  • Ravi Kharidehal on January 29, 2013, 15:04 GMT

    Art for Art's sake. Only an artist at work who can provide such description of a great artists. It is possible only when the heArts meet and the heads are on their respective shoulders and held high and also do not deviate too much from the respective heArts. There are many who who might not have seen the yesteryear all rounder at work and am quite confident that the picturesque description of the all rounder debate with current one who has been quite visible at his work. The description to the discerning mind is quite appealing and the mind tends to agree of the aesthetics and the value of entertainers that is way beyond anything that the statistics can convey. The heArt is generally associated with bias but when the statistics is taken as guidelines in the all rounder argument then the bias element is lessened if not eliminated. Furthermore the unseen fact gets factored in and therein lies the answer of experiencing godliness or rather high qualities in the description of the artist.

  • Boll on January 29, 2013, 14:54 GMT

    @G. Let`s not forget that the Sobers/Kallis debate is a comparison between batting all-rounders. If you`re looking for bowling all-rounders, obviously Imran, Miller, Hadlee et al. are the men you would start with...It`s tough to compare, but I think if you want an opening bowler who can bat in the top/middle order, Sobers and Miller are the 2 standouts.

  • Gamla on January 29, 2013, 14:48 GMT

    Kallis is not just the best all-rounder of all time, he is the best cricketer of all time! Just check the stats columns...and he's not done yet!

  • mark on January 29, 2013, 14:45 GMT

    Garry Sobers was gifted player; Kallis, though brilliant, has the advantage of playing many more Tests - so the stats don't tell entire story. However, two different generations and comparisons might be unfair. Leave them perfectly ensconced where they are in the pantheon of greatness: those who have been lucky to see both of them. Though not allrounders, Graeme Pollock and Brian Lara - of the best left-handed batsmen in the business.

  • Boll on January 29, 2013, 14:44 GMT

    Just to put some perspective into the batting side of things, I refer you all to ICC end-of year rankings.

    In the 16 years from 1958-1973, Sobers was ranked the No.1 batsman in the world for 12 of them, more times than any other player, including Bradman. He was ranked in the top 3 in the other 4 years.

    Since 2001, about 6/7 years after his debut, Kallis finished in the Top 10 batsmen rankings for the first time. In the 12 years since then he has only once been out of the top 10. However, he has never been ranked No.1, and been ranked in the top 3 only 3 times, the top 5 on 7 occasions.

    For mine, Sobers clearly walks into a World XI on his batting alone. For all his phenomenal records, I don`t think the same can be said for Kallis.

  • Quentin on January 29, 2013, 14:22 GMT

    The way the article was written ie the criteria which the players are being rated on needs to be clarified. I have yet to see a graceful yes or no column on a scoring sheet, sorry but that is what goes down in history! Sir Garry Sobers would not have been knighted if he was not a world class player in the eyes of world the class player. Sir Garry played in a time where traveling was not as easy as it is today and in the amateur time of the great game. To select a greatest player ever should never be done as the measuring criteria will never be the same over the ages. With all that said, King Kallis would get my vote.

  • G on January 29, 2013, 13:39 GMT

    And I will agree that Imran Khan gets spoken of less often than he should be. He is not far off Sobers/Kallis even if his sub 40 bat average ultimately sees him settle into a worthy 3rd.

  • G on January 29, 2013, 13:33 GMT

    I find it funny how an appeal is made to look at non-statistical aspects of a player and then the author focuses on how the player looks. If anything that just under scores that people are looking back with rose-tinted glasses at the "idea" of Sobers, not the reality, and that little objectivity is at play when placing Sobers as the best. When addressing a objective question like "who is the best" one has to look at the facts in a non-emotional way. Otherwise why even bother asking the question and just carry on believing what you want to believe?

    Statistics needs to be looked at in context. Relative ease of batting/bowling is irrelevant as they are all rounders. Sobers/Kallis (BatA = 57.7/56.7, BowA = 34/32.4, BowStr = 91.9/68.6). Sobers pips Kallis at bat but Kallis edges in the bowling, except the strike rate. Kallis destroys Sobers from that aspect.

    When you take relative teams/opposition it only widens the gap in Kallis favour.

  • Enigma on January 29, 2013, 13:11 GMT

    Looks don't matter, statistics does. Kallis wins hands down.

  • David on January 29, 2013, 13:04 GMT

    Mr. Chopra. I am 31 years old and have never seen Mr. Sobers played the game. I have however seen Mr. Kallis played the game and what a great cricketer he has been. I do not quite understand why a cricket needs to look graceful of smooth and how that can be criteria to motivate the greatest All-rounder? If I can choose, Kallis will be the fist player I'll pick if I had to pick a test team (and maybe Sobers too). But for me J. Kallis is the best All-Round modern day cricketer that my generation has seen, one of many greats... Whereas Sobers was as good prior the modern day cricket era.

  • Sarfaraz on January 29, 2013, 12:53 GMT

    Having seen both play through their careers..Sobers only in the 60s, while Kallis full, I can say there is no understanding of what Sir Garry was. He was dominant, undisputably through his years all over the world. He was flash with depth also. Could bowl, fast, spin, field in all positions, captain a team and single handedly bat or bowl the opposition out of a match. There will be no more gifted cricketer like him. Kallis is great, but not in the same league. Also a little matter of no helmets and uncovered pitch. When Sobers scored 113 to save WI in 68 vs England, there were pot holes in the pitch. The ball bounced and spun square. So much so that Sobers cut all feet movement and simply played based on hand and eye corodination. Somewhere there is a great description from one of the England players...one of the great innings in adversity. Yet he thrashed Lillee on a green Perth pitch for 254*, while Zaheer Abbass -no slouch- scored 86 on the other side. Bradman waxed lyrical on it.

  • Nikhil Ranjan on January 29, 2013, 12:37 GMT

    Leave aside Garry Sobers who is best by a long way, the 2nd best is Imran who as bat, bowl and captain was a complete package winning a world cup to boot.

  • skroebels on January 29, 2013, 12:06 GMT

    I Kallis was indian, he would have been rated as the best of all time on this site. Case closed!

  • alanm on January 29, 2013, 12:02 GMT

    Charisma is the difference. Sobers had it - a dashing rum swilling ladies man from the islands. Kallis doesn't. Their cricketing skills are as close as makes no difference, but people have a hard time accepting histories other greatest allrounder is a chubby balding Afrikaner from Pinelands (arguably South Africa's most boring white-picket-fence suburb).

    If you want to talk about unappreciated allrounders, try Shaun Pollock. Here's a bowling allrounder (and captain) good enough to be mentioned in the same breath as Botham, Kapil, Imran, Hadlee, Miller. He never gets the credit he deserves as an allrounder, partly because playing in a team with Kallis he batted at 8 and by comparison was practically playing as a specialist bowler. That gives you some perspective on how good Kallis is.

  • Mojo on January 29, 2013, 11:52 GMT

    If you were to look closely at the South African cricket team since readmission, you would realize that they have always had a reputation for having a somewhat fragile batting lineup. They have suffered some of the most disastrous batting collapses imaginable. Assuming this to be your team, would you rather have the flamboyant, exciting Sobers in the team, or the dependable, steady Kallis? Considering the holding job that Kallis had to do, he can't be expected to be another Lance Klusener. It's only recently that SA's batting lineup had been bolstered by Amla and de Villiers that Kallis has freed up his arms a bit. I think Kallis has exceeded Sobers as an all-round cricketer on merit of his value to his team.

  • Skins on January 29, 2013, 11:45 GMT

    Sir Garry Sobers was poetry is motion , he stand out on the field of play, no one can deny that jacques kallis is great however is a classic and that speaks volume.Stats is not all, compare two batsmen hundreds ,one might get many chances before reaching the ton while the other one was chanceless .stats don't record chances. Sobers stands out anywhere. further Sobers and others West indian Players revolutionised cricket in England (bring out the crouds)

  • Cliff on January 29, 2013, 11:37 GMT

    One other point that is missed is that most people look back with rose tinted glasses. Where as everyone looks back at the "black wash" of England as brilliant cricket it was actually an extremely one sided series where England were bounced out of existence. If that happened now everyone would complain about a one sided series. Point is Sobers was amazing, no doubt, no overtime people tend forget the flaws and remember the great points. Maybe in 30 years time Kallis will be remember as a complete wall who could pick up a wicket when he felt like getting one. We know that's not correct but that's often how people remember the past. Sobers had a strike rate of over 80 with the ball, who cares whether he was bowling spin or pace he couldn't have been that effective especially considering that batting on those pitches must have been much more difficult then compared to the current day.

  • Mike Green on January 29, 2013, 10:53 GMT

    Other than the fact that Kallis bats at 4, an interesting point...

  • Warren on January 29, 2013, 10:52 GMT

    Both of them were/are once in a generation players. Its old school v new school. Its like in golf Tiger vs. Jack, under 40 say Tiger .. over 40 say Nicklaus. At the end of the day its statistics that count and right now Kallis has the better all rounder average (only just)just as Tiger will have to get 19 majors to be known as greatest ever. Would Bradman be remembered for his black and white pictures or his 99 average? Both Kallis and Sobers are the elite allrounders of the game .... but come retirement for Kallis and his averages are higher than Sobers, the Bradman effect will kick in and he will be known as the best ever all rounder. Always hard for the older generation to accept but a simple fact of life.

  • Anonymous on January 29, 2013, 10:52 GMT

    Would you say that after Bradman , Tendulkar is the greatest Batsman to play the game? Well i would venture to say that if Kallis plays as long as Tendulkar he will have better stats, in fact he already does have better stats than Tendulkar at the same stage of their career. You say Kallis was boring this was only because he had to hold together a week South African batting line up. He has come out of his shell since better players are around him.

    I wont even go into the other stats of bowling and fielding but you should not be writing cricket. If you do not agree about him being one of the top two or three batsman in the world to ever have played the game ....you know what this is a stupid argument.

    Kallis is the greatest cricketer to ever play the game from any era. And another reason you should not be writing these articles, how can you not say Kallis is graceful with the bat??????

    You probably never really played the game did you??

  • Kaustubh Acharyya on January 29, 2013, 10:26 GMT

    You took the words out of the mouth of thousands, if not millions, Mr. Chopra. "What do they know of cricket, who only runs & wickets know?"

  • Michael on January 29, 2013, 10:15 GMT

    You're right to suggest that perception plays a big part when determining whether one great is better than another. Despite the availability of statistics, cricket is not a sport of absolutes, unlike say track and field. There are so many variables that come into the equation, like the quality of opponents, or the impact of runs scored and wickets taken, and also how they are scored and the manner in which they are taken. Then, there is the X factor that you alluded to - the personality of the cricketer as exemplified by the way in which he plays the game. And in this regard, few players, let alone the exceptional Jacques Kallis, can hope to stand shoulder to shoulder with the incomparable Sir Garry Sobers. Many pushed their way past the turnstiles just to watch the Great Man in action for he embodied everything that is beautiful about the sport. It is not an insult to Kallis to say that few would rush to take their seats when he's at the crease or marking his run-up to bowl.

  • Kan Alosh on January 29, 2013, 10:09 GMT

    Mr. Samir Chopra, you're wrong. Kallis is as eye pleasing as Sobbers.His elegance at drives is impeccable.He's performed brilliantly across all 3 formats of the game over the 18 years.He's stayed fit for so long.To bat at no.3, to ball at 140s and to field at the most demanding position of slips requires a lot of stamina and skill. King Kallis has both.Sobbers didn't play in a condition when his captain was convicted for match fixing.Kallis inspired SA during those black times.Even if Sobbers didn't play der a team consisting Greenidge,Viv,Kalicharan,4Ws they would have trashed any team.But without Kallis SA would have achieved nothing.And frankly,what do you mean by Sobbers played in cream flannels and Kallis in ugly ODI & IPL uniforms?The author is suggesting Kallis should wear whites in ODIs?Kallis is the best.

  • Robert on January 29, 2013, 10:03 GMT

    I agree with your argument though it has to be said that the Kallis off-drive is not to be under-estimated in the elegance stakes! I have never seen Gary Sobers play live, and can't really form an opinion based on somoe teleevision clips of batting hghlights, but he does seem to have been a supremely elegant batsman.

  • Amir on January 29, 2013, 9:43 GMT

    I don't even get how did it become a two way race? When you talk about all-round skills, you really mean ALL-ROUND skills. and how can you ignore captaincy and inspirational leadership in that? Has Kallis captained South Africa? Did he change the entire culture and thinking philosophy of a team to lead them like they were cornered tigers? Unfortunately, some writers and fans coming from stats driven culture can't see beyond just stats. And even if you look at that, Imran Khan for an entire decade averaged 50+ with the bat and under 19 with the ball. All this in addition to leading a Pakistani team, and we all know how treacherous a job that is.

    What many hail as the best captain in world cricket, doesn't even feature in an all arounder debate is just way beyond comprehension.

  • saad on January 29, 2013, 9:32 GMT

    How you wasted my time - useless debate!

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  • saad on January 29, 2013, 9:32 GMT

    How you wasted my time - useless debate!

  • Amir on January 29, 2013, 9:43 GMT

    I don't even get how did it become a two way race? When you talk about all-round skills, you really mean ALL-ROUND skills. and how can you ignore captaincy and inspirational leadership in that? Has Kallis captained South Africa? Did he change the entire culture and thinking philosophy of a team to lead them like they were cornered tigers? Unfortunately, some writers and fans coming from stats driven culture can't see beyond just stats. And even if you look at that, Imran Khan for an entire decade averaged 50+ with the bat and under 19 with the ball. All this in addition to leading a Pakistani team, and we all know how treacherous a job that is.

    What many hail as the best captain in world cricket, doesn't even feature in an all arounder debate is just way beyond comprehension.

  • Robert on January 29, 2013, 10:03 GMT

    I agree with your argument though it has to be said that the Kallis off-drive is not to be under-estimated in the elegance stakes! I have never seen Gary Sobers play live, and can't really form an opinion based on somoe teleevision clips of batting hghlights, but he does seem to have been a supremely elegant batsman.

  • Kan Alosh on January 29, 2013, 10:09 GMT

    Mr. Samir Chopra, you're wrong. Kallis is as eye pleasing as Sobbers.His elegance at drives is impeccable.He's performed brilliantly across all 3 formats of the game over the 18 years.He's stayed fit for so long.To bat at no.3, to ball at 140s and to field at the most demanding position of slips requires a lot of stamina and skill. King Kallis has both.Sobbers didn't play in a condition when his captain was convicted for match fixing.Kallis inspired SA during those black times.Even if Sobbers didn't play der a team consisting Greenidge,Viv,Kalicharan,4Ws they would have trashed any team.But without Kallis SA would have achieved nothing.And frankly,what do you mean by Sobbers played in cream flannels and Kallis in ugly ODI & IPL uniforms?The author is suggesting Kallis should wear whites in ODIs?Kallis is the best.

  • Michael on January 29, 2013, 10:15 GMT

    You're right to suggest that perception plays a big part when determining whether one great is better than another. Despite the availability of statistics, cricket is not a sport of absolutes, unlike say track and field. There are so many variables that come into the equation, like the quality of opponents, or the impact of runs scored and wickets taken, and also how they are scored and the manner in which they are taken. Then, there is the X factor that you alluded to - the personality of the cricketer as exemplified by the way in which he plays the game. And in this regard, few players, let alone the exceptional Jacques Kallis, can hope to stand shoulder to shoulder with the incomparable Sir Garry Sobers. Many pushed their way past the turnstiles just to watch the Great Man in action for he embodied everything that is beautiful about the sport. It is not an insult to Kallis to say that few would rush to take their seats when he's at the crease or marking his run-up to bowl.

  • Kaustubh Acharyya on January 29, 2013, 10:26 GMT

    You took the words out of the mouth of thousands, if not millions, Mr. Chopra. "What do they know of cricket, who only runs & wickets know?"

  • Anonymous on January 29, 2013, 10:52 GMT

    Would you say that after Bradman , Tendulkar is the greatest Batsman to play the game? Well i would venture to say that if Kallis plays as long as Tendulkar he will have better stats, in fact he already does have better stats than Tendulkar at the same stage of their career. You say Kallis was boring this was only because he had to hold together a week South African batting line up. He has come out of his shell since better players are around him.

    I wont even go into the other stats of bowling and fielding but you should not be writing cricket. If you do not agree about him being one of the top two or three batsman in the world to ever have played the game ....you know what this is a stupid argument.

    Kallis is the greatest cricketer to ever play the game from any era. And another reason you should not be writing these articles, how can you not say Kallis is graceful with the bat??????

    You probably never really played the game did you??

  • Warren on January 29, 2013, 10:52 GMT

    Both of them were/are once in a generation players. Its old school v new school. Its like in golf Tiger vs. Jack, under 40 say Tiger .. over 40 say Nicklaus. At the end of the day its statistics that count and right now Kallis has the better all rounder average (only just)just as Tiger will have to get 19 majors to be known as greatest ever. Would Bradman be remembered for his black and white pictures or his 99 average? Both Kallis and Sobers are the elite allrounders of the game .... but come retirement for Kallis and his averages are higher than Sobers, the Bradman effect will kick in and he will be known as the best ever all rounder. Always hard for the older generation to accept but a simple fact of life.

  • Mike Green on January 29, 2013, 10:53 GMT

    Other than the fact that Kallis bats at 4, an interesting point...

  • Cliff on January 29, 2013, 11:37 GMT

    One other point that is missed is that most people look back with rose tinted glasses. Where as everyone looks back at the "black wash" of England as brilliant cricket it was actually an extremely one sided series where England were bounced out of existence. If that happened now everyone would complain about a one sided series. Point is Sobers was amazing, no doubt, no overtime people tend forget the flaws and remember the great points. Maybe in 30 years time Kallis will be remember as a complete wall who could pick up a wicket when he felt like getting one. We know that's not correct but that's often how people remember the past. Sobers had a strike rate of over 80 with the ball, who cares whether he was bowling spin or pace he couldn't have been that effective especially considering that batting on those pitches must have been much more difficult then compared to the current day.