November 28, 2001

Jacques of all trades

Jacques Kallis missed out on the Man of the Series award that went to his Western Province team-mate Herschelle Gibbs in the recently concluded India-South Africa series, but there is a quiet air about the dependable cricketer that augurs well for the South Africans as they embark on a tour to Australia. Excerpts from an interview:

Q: You have taken up a lot of responsibility on yourself, in terms of bowling and batting. Even when you field, you prefer being in the slips rather than laze around in the outfield. Don't you think it could burn you out in future?

A: I don't think that way. My priority is to contribute to the team in whatever way I can. I enjoy bowling and batting, and I love being in the slips. My body is standing up to the pressure well, and I don't see why I should shun responsibility.

Q: But surely coming in at number three and as first change bowler for your team is going to take its toll?

A: When it does take a toll, I will know. There is no point in worrying about it at present. The critical thing is that I am enjoying what I am doing.

Q: Do you think that, because you take on so much, you are not given as much credit as you should? Do they expect you to take five wickets and score 100 runs every time you go in to bowl and bat?

A: My standards are pretty much my own. I would be happy even if I have scored a zero and not taken a wicket in an innings, as long as I am happy with the effort that I have put in for my team.

Q: You started off as a flamboyant bowler. Lately, one has noticed you are more intent on sticking around and spending hours at the crease. Is this a true assessment?

A: Yes, in a way. Our batting works in combination and, amidst dashing stroke-makers like Herschelle Gibbs and Neil McKenzie, there is a role for batsmen like me and Boeta Dippenaar. I would like to play a role in which I drop anchor and the rest of the batting revolves around me.

Q: Do you harbour captaincy ambitions?

A: It would be an honour to captain South Africa, but I am not angling for it. When it comes along and I am entrusted with the job, I will be happy.

Q: Coming to the next World Cup, which is being held in South Africa. What do you think of South Africa's chances? Will they be able to get over the tag of chokers in finals in the one-day arena?

A: I think we have already got over the tag of chokers. We have shown enough resilience and won enough tournaments since the last World Cup to lay claim to being one of the most consistent sides in the world. The tag of chokers should apply to us no longer.

Q: Who is your favourite batsman and why?

A: My favourite batsman is Steve Waugh, and I think he is the best batsman in the world. He is gritty, tough and is someone you would back to bat for your life.

Q: Even ahead of Sachin Tendulkar?

A: It is my personal opinion, although Tendulkar hasn't done badly. Both are different batsmen. Tendulkar is more flamboyant. His average shows that he hasn't done too badly himself. But if asked to make a choice, I would plump for Waugh.