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August 14, 2012
News : Bairstow can handle pressure - Bresnan
News : Broad denies parody involvement
News : Piers Morgan stokes Pietersen controversy
News : SA preparations come full circle
What They Said About : 'A distraction we could well do without'
News : Pietersen dropped over text messages
Series/Tournaments: South Africa tour of England
England hoped to neutralise the acidic build-up of the final Test against South Africa by presenting Tim Bresnan, who admitted to the media he "probably won't know" too many of the details surrounding the Kevin Pietersen saga. South Africa poured further alkaline on the situation by calling on their most experienced, yet increasingly outspoken player, Jacques Kallis, to field the questions two days before the Lord's Test.
If Kallis seems to be taking it lightly, it may be because he has been through much more. Kallis has lived through the match fixing saga under Hansie Cronje, World Cup chokes and most recently, seeing his closest team-mate, Mark Boucher, suffer a career-ending injury.
In that time, he has gone from being the player who talked like he would rather be eating his own foot than addressing the press to someone who has enjoyed sharing his opinion. In New Zealand in March, Kallis launched an almost unprompted attack on the Decision Review System, speaking in an unusually candid way about ball-tracking technology. When this tour started in unfortunate circumstances, he was at Graeme Smith's side when Boucher's retirement statement was read and matter-of-factly announced that the incident served as a reminder that it was "not about cricket anymore, it is about a mate".
This time, the Kallis tonic was again served when Pietersen, texting, and the breaking down of boundaries between players of different countries because of twenty-over leagues came up for discussion. South Africa's defence against receiving messages that allegedly contained unflattering details about the England dressing-room, is that such content was never shared. Team manager Mohammed Moosajee said the communication was only "friendly banter" between players who had formed relationships at the IPL.
Kallis has not been linked to the messages but would have come into contact with Pietersen and many other players on his travels and said there is nothing unusual about striking up friendships. "You keep in contact with a few guys that you wouldn't have before the IPL because you're now team mates," he explained. "You congratulate guys when they do well and keep in touch. It has changed how international players look at each other but that's just off the field, on the field it's back to business."
His answer was tempered with a warning about the extent of communication that players should have during an international series. "You have got to be careful about just what you send and if you do send messages keep it pretty much to a mate of yours," Kallis said.
"If a guy does well and you want to send him a message the guys will do that especially if you're watching on TV. You have to be a little more careful during series you're playing against each other but even then, you know, I think we've moved on from those days when the guys didn't have any contact with each other."
|"Any time he's not in your side it does make a big difference. I think they're going to miss his experience for sure but cricket's not a one man sport." Jacques Kallis on Kevin Pietersen|
There was an implication in Kallis' answer: that players should choose their words more carefully, something he has done himself. When Kallis was asked if he followed the KP-parody account, he admitted he did not but said he would not be too concerned if there was a fake feed created for him, because it already exists. "I think there are one or two, before I joined I was already on there. I don't know too much about Twitter."
That much is true. Kallis refused to join Twitter until the June 7 this year, when he posted a message saying he had "given in" and signed up. He has posted 69 tweets, almost all of them to do with sport.
There are four accounts which use Kallis' name and one of them, @JQKALLIS, passed as a reasonable enough impression of the man himself to attract a high number of followers, in excess of 6,000. When Kallis was told about it, in June last year, he laughed it off. None of the accounts have ever posted damaging messages about Kallis. Keeping his communication with the Twitter-verse limited has probably saved Kallis a lot of hardship and he does not intend to change that.
Despite the problems it has caused for Pietersen, Kallis thinks the ECB and Pietersen "will sort it out because he is too good a player to be kept out of the international scene." None of that can happen by the time the Lord's Test starts though and Pietersen's absence could play into South Africa's hands.
Kallis said South Africa will not view it that way, even though AB de Villiers admitted at a function at South Africa House on Monday night that the bowlers would be pleased not to have to bowl at Pietersen in this match. Kallis maintained the team stance that "we don't focus on the opposition," because it was something they did too much in the past.
He expects England to feel Pietersen's absence, though. "He's a world class player. Any time he's not in your side it does make a big difference. I think they're going to miss his experience for sure but cricket's not a one man sport. There are 11 guys who can take a Test match away from us. We're certainly not preparing in any other way than we would do if he was playing. It is a big loss for England."
Experience means a lot to Kallis - he cited it as the biggest factor in South Africa's string of successes away from home and the one thing he thinks can contribute to them taking the No.1 ranking off England in less than a week's time.
"The guys are maturing and learning a lot from the way we're doing things. Hopefully the experiences we've had in the past, the guys will be able to tap into and pull us through and bring it out in this Test match," he said.
"It is a mature side and experienced side who know exactly what their roles are and exactly how to go about their business. That does make life a lot easier. Knowing how to go about your business which is different than having a young side who don't."
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondentFeeds: Firdose Moonda
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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