Kallis may have to decide on ODI future soon
Jacques Kallis will be forced to make a firm decision on his ODI future when he meets with Russell Domingo "soon." The national head coach wants South Africa's veteran allrounder to commit to playing "some ODI cricket" before the 2015 World Cup if he still harbours hopes of competing in that tournament.
Kallis has not played an ODI for South Africa in almost 18 months after Gary Kirsten deemed it "no longer necessary" for him to play in bilateral series because he was too important to South Africa's Test ambitions. Kirsten left the door open for Kallis to make a return in major events but Domingo has indicated he will not follow suit.
"If Jacques wants to play in the 2015 World Cup, he will have to play some ODI cricket for us along the way," Domingo said. "It will not be fair on other players if it doesn't happen that way."
Kirsten's rationale was that Kallis' 17-year international career had earned him the right to pick and choose when he wanted to play but it was an approach which backfired. Kallis was recalled to the Twenty20 squad for three matches against England and the World T20 last September on the back of his form for IPL side Kolkata Knight Riders and because of his desire to win an ICC trophy.
He showed promise with an unbeaten 48 against England but he scored only 24 runs in the tournament itself. His contribution with the ball was more notable with a career-best 4 for 15 against Zimbabwe and a wicket in three of the four other matches South Africa played, although that did not change their fortunes. They crashed out after the Super Eights round.
Kallis was also due to be part of the squad that played in June's Champions Trophy but he pulled out at the last minute, throwing South Africa's plans into disarray. Two days before the squad was announced, South Africa's convenor of selectors Andrew Hudson confirmed Kallis was part of the plans. He was, at that stage, unaware of Kallis's 11th hour withdrawal because of "personal reasons." That decision was communicated only to Kirsten and not the selection panel, until much later, who then included David Miller instead.
South Africa were also without Graeme Smith for the tournament, because of injury, and their lack of experience showed. They exited the competition at the semi-final stage after a batting collapse which left Kirsten so shell-shocked he said they "choked" even when it was clear they were simply outplayed. Domingo does not want to find himself in the same boat.
Instead, he wants a certain group of "about 15 to 18 players" who he will work with ahead of the 2015 World Cup and said he has a "pretty good" idea of who those are. All indications are that the current squad will form the core of Domingo's base. If Kallis wants to be part of that, he will have to begin playing regular one-day cricket soon. Domingo confirmed he has a timeframe in mind and he will let Kallis know when that is.
It may not be as soon as the five-match ODI series against Pakistan in October and November, but it could well be in the home summer when South Africa will play limited-overs cricket against both India and Australia. South Africa are also scheduled to travel to Zimbabwe and Australia next year and host West Indies before the 2015 World Cup and it is likely Domingo would want Kallis to feature in majority of those matches if he hopes to play in the main event.
Should Kallis not agree, Domingo does not seem too phased. "As a South African unit, we've got to be able to live without Jacques Kallis," he said. "We've had him around for so long but we've got to realise there will be a day when he will no longer be around."
Already, Kallis has not been part of the limited-overs squads and even his participation in Tests has been hampered by fitness concerns. He did not play in South Africa's last Test because of a calf injury and has suffered niggles in the last five Test series South Africa have played. His ailments have ranged from a stiff neck which kept him out of the Wellington Test in March 2012 to back spams which prevented him from bowling against England at Leeds and a hamstring problem which affected his batting and left him unable to bowl against Australia in Adelaide in November last year.
He has been out of action since this year's IPL and has had the better part of six months form his various concerns. Kallis is expected to be back for the two-Test series against Pakistan in the UAE in October.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent