South Africa in England 2012 August 14, 2012

Pietersen a big loss for England - Kallis


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 correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Matthew on August 15, 2012, 15:40 GMT

    @randy oz What about the great Sir Geoff Boycott? KP would not be fit to lace his boots. I can guarantee that if he played today no one would ever get him out, such is the lack of quality bowling in international cricket these days. Steyn v Boycott would be good but there would be no contest from anyone else. On the subject of greats, I just love the irony in this article. Kaliis, the greatest player of the modern era, having to talk about Pietersen!!!

  • David on August 15, 2012, 14:32 GMT

    Pietersen is undoubtedly an exciting player to watch and he helps sell tickets and TV rights, but does he actually help the England team to win?

    England's team's record (tests, ODIs & T20s combined) since Kevin Pietersen's debut on 28th Nov 2004: With KP: won 111, lost 101, tied 4, drawn 26 Without KP: won 40, lost 28, tied 1, drawn 3

    Eight years' worth of stats say no, he doesn't.

  • Owen on August 15, 2012, 12:07 GMT

    To all you gloating about the fact England may be about to lose their no.1 spot, I hope you are all Saffers, because let's be honest, no team except SA has been as consistently good as England over the past few years. Yes, Ajmal and Rehman may have beaten us in the UAE, but Pakistan as a team have not been consistent enough to challenge for no.1. England deserved to get to no.1, and now SA probably deserve to take it off us, but I back our boys to fight hard to get it back. and as for Siddarths comment at the bottom that India might rebuild, that is ridiculous - India doesn't seem to care about tests, so there is no chance of them becoming the no.1 test team again, T20/ODI perhaps, but tests....hahahaha!

  • Venkatesan on August 15, 2012, 11:32 GMT

    @RednWhiteArmy, dude, come on, stop kidding. England win SA on 5th morning by 129 runs? Wow, that's a good day-dream, friend. I am sure England will score at least 3 centuries in the first innings. But it will be the English choking bowlers who will do that and not the batsmen. :)- Without Pietersen, England batting will be like eleven clowns, falling like pack of cards while the jokers in bowling squad will be hammered all over the Lords. But this time, they have an excuse even before the game will start---Pietersen saga. So better let Strauss and Andy start scripting the post-match conference, blaming it all over Pietersen for their defeat. Anyway, England don't just deserve to be on the best test team status. SA deserve more than any other team and they will duly go and sit there under the guidance of Kirsten and leadership of Smith.

  • Balajee on August 15, 2012, 10:44 GMT

    KP is great but he is an elephant in the dressing room. Not the only one in world cricket either.

  • Abrar on August 15, 2012, 10:06 GMT

    @Jonathan Jono Lane .... Seriously are u sleeping or what for last 1 year...... Who cook and Trot? In the last 7 tests against good oppositions (I am not considering WI) starting from UAE, England has only one test and Drew other and Guess what both times Piterson scored century (Against Srilanka and SA) .... So dude seriously wake up and get your facts right .....

  • Sean on August 15, 2012, 10:04 GMT

    I hope the saffas think England cant win without KP....Remembering everyone said that about the ODI side and they responded by WHITEWASHING australia.

    England will win on the 5th morning by 129 runs

  • Ram on August 15, 2012, 10:02 GMT

    Of all the English players, KP alone could be said to be truly world class, capable of swinging a match in a session. England will pay dearly if they miss out on KP.

  • David on August 15, 2012, 9:30 GMT

    Pietersen is certainly exciting to watch and an interesting character in interviews, but does the team actually win more often when he is in the team?

    England team's record (tests, ODIs & T20s combined) since Kevin Pietersen's debut on 28th Nov 2004: With KP: won 111, lost 101, tied 4, drawn 26 Without KP: won 40, lost 28, tied 1, drawn 3

    The answer is no. The England team has a better win/loss ratio when Pietersen is not in the team.

    So I have to disagree with Jacque Kallis. Based on eight years worth of stats, it looks like England are better off without him, at least in terms of winning if not ticket sales.

  • Dummy4 on August 15, 2012, 8:08 GMT

    England should just forfeit the test. There is no way that they will get close. This is going to be humiliating.

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