A slow but steady ascent
He may have missed out on achieving the milestone of 10,000 Test runs on this tour, but Jacques Kallis ensured he would leave Australian shores with 10,000 ODI runs. With the 16th run of his 60 at the SCG, Kallis - South Africa's leading run-getter in both Tests and ODIs -became the eighth to 10,000 runs in ODIs. With 12 more needed to reach 10,000 in Tests, he is all set to become the fifth to achieve the mark in both formats when South Africa host Australia next month - Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting and Rahul Dravid are the others in the club.
For over a decade now Kallis has been a regular feature of the South African line-up, and besides his solid presence at the crease he is also a more-than-handy medium-pacer and a reliable fielder, especially in the slips. With nearly 20,000 runs and 500 wickets in international cricket, besides 246 catches, Kallis' numbers are staggering, whatever the critics might throw at him.
Kallis averages the best among the eight in the 10,000-club in ODIs, a group led by Sachin Tendulkar, who has 16,422 runs at 44.26. A blip is Kallis' strike-rate of 71.68, but half the players in the eight - Inzamam-ul-Haq, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid are the others - have had strike-rates below 75.
If the cut-off for the above table is reduced to 3000 runs, Kallis is squeezed to No. 5 by Kevin Pietersen and Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Kallis possesses an impressive home record, with only Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting having scored more runs than him in home contests. At 47.82, his average is higher than those two. Kallis manages nearly the same at neutral venues, but it slips to 40.92 for away venues, which includes his poor return of 21 runs in three games against Australia as part of the ICC World XI. Kallis' 42.31 is still the best average for a South African batsman with 1500 runs in opposition territory - among those with 1000 runs, Boeta Dippenaar leads the list with an average over 50.
Kallis' record is not that impressive against the best team of his generation; he averages below 35 in matches against Australia and in Australia. He has not fared too well against England either, but overall he has performed consistently against most teams. (Click here for his career batting summary.
Nearly two-thirds of his runs have come at the crucial No. 3 spot, while he also performed well at Nos 4 and 5.
Kallis has gone past fifty 71 times in his ODI career, but with only 16 centuries his conversion-rate is not too impressive for a top-order batsman - among the others in the 10,000-club only Rahul Dravid and Inzamam-ul-Haq have a worse rate, partly due to the reason that they batted more in the middle order. The following table compares Kallis' record with that of Ponting's.
|Runs scored||Kallis - % of innings||Ponting - % of innings|
Kallis' tendency to build his innings at a leisurely pace - his 48 off 63 balls in South Africa's pursuit of 378 against Australia at last year's World Cup after a blistering start being a case in point - has often come under criticism, and the stats show he has been among the slowest this decade. Among those with over 3000 runs, the worst strike-rate is Dippenaar's, indication perhaps of the role that the team has had for them: in a line-up of strokeplayers, they have had the responsibility of consolidating the innings or building a platform.
It's a slow start to his innings that has hampered Kallis' career strike-rate, which has improved in recent years, but only marginally.
|Overs||Kallis runs||Average||Strike-rate||Ponting runs||Average||Strike-rate|
Although he averages higher while chasing than batting first, over 50 in wins and nearly 60 in successful chases, Kallis has failed to step it up in tournament finals, with 339 runs in 17 matches at 24.21. However, he has performed in the big tournaments, averaging over 50 in the World Cup and the Champions Trophy.
A significant positive on Kallis' batting has been Graeme Smith's captaincy. Despite two leans years in 2005 and 2006 - when he averaged in the low 30s - Kallis' average with Smith in the team is over 50 and it's nearly three runs more with Smith as captain. At the same time, though, Kallis' bowling average has worsened.
Mathew Varghese is sub-editor (stats) at Cricinfo