ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

Numbers Game

An all-round ODI giant

Few players can boast the sort of numbers that Jacques Kallis achieved in ODIs; plus, he was Man-of-the-Match in the final when South Africa won their only ICC tournament

S Rajesh

August 1, 2014

Comments: 26 | Text size: A | A

In the four years between 2007 and 2010, Jacques Kallis averaged 54.59 in 65 ODIs, and scored at a strike rate of 81.45 © AFP

For a player whose natural game was more suited to Test cricket, Jacques Kallis did an outstanding job in ODIs as well, with both bat and ball. An aggregate of 11,579 runs is the seventh-highest in the format, and the second-best among all batsmen from outside the subcontinent - only Ricky Ponting, with 13,704, has scored more ODI runs among non-Asian batsmen. To go with all those runs, Kallis also took 273 wickets at an economy rate of 4.83, and despite bowling more sparingly in the last few years of his career, still averaged about five-and-a-half overs per game. Among all the allrounders who've played the game, only Sanath Jayasuriya has meatier stats, scoring 13,430 runs and taking 323 wickets.

There have been questions about Kallis' scoring rate in ODIs, and while there were specific games when he didn't keep up with the asking rate, his overall career strike rate of 72.89 isn't very different from those of Sourav Ganguly (73.70), Mohammad Yousuf (75.10) or Inzamam-ul-Haq (74.24), batsmen who are thought to be pretty good in this format. Kallis' solid presence at No. 3 allowed the other South African batsmen to be more expressive and bat around him. As the game evolved and scoring rates increased, Kallis moulded his game too, probably influenced by 20-over cricket. In the four years between 2007 and 2010 - which were his best years as an ODI batsman - his strike rate increased significantly, to 81.45, and he also combined that with a high average of nearly 55.

During that period, though, he was used more sparingly as a bowler. His best bowling years were much earlier, between 1998 and 2002: 57% of his total wickets came during that five-year period, during which he averaged almost seven overs per match. He also averaged more than one wicket per match, and had a more-than-acceptable economy rate of 4.63. Later in his ODI career, he became more of a batsman, though his bowling remained handy.

In terms of all-round excellence, that was also the period when he was at his most effective: as a batsman in those five years, he scored 5108 runs at an average of 45.60 and a strike rate of almost 71. During that period, only three others managed the double of 2500 runs and 75 wickets; the only other player who scored 4000-plus runs and took 100-plus wickets was Jayasuriya, but he averaged 34 with the bat and 38 with the ball.

Jacques Kallis in ODIs, with the bat
Period Matches Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
Till Dec 2000 116 3850 41.84 67.76 5/ 27
Jan 2001 to Dec 2004 87 3417 51.77 75.33 8/ 22
2005 and 2006 39 1060 32.12 65.59 1/ 8
Jan 2007 to Dec 2010 65 2675 54.59 81.45 3/ 23
2011 onwards 21 577 27.47 75.13 0/ 6
Career 328 11,579 44.36 72.89 17/ 86
Jacques Kallis in ODIs, with the ball
Period Matches Wickets Average Econ rate Overs/match
Till 1997 29 8 57.37 4.83 3.3
Jan 1998 to Dec 2002 139 156 28.32 4.63 6.5
Jan 2003 to Dec 2007 101 73 35.82 5.17 5.0
Jan 2008 onwards 59 36 33.00 4.97 4.0
Career 328 273 31.79 4.84 5.3

The two teams that gave Kallis the most problems as a batsman in ODIs were Australia and England. (They were also teams against whom Kallis had a fair share of problems in Tests.) Against Australia, Kallis averaged 34.58 - about ten runs fewer than his career average - while against England it dropped further to 31.93. (Click here for his ODI career summary.)

However, during his peak years as an ODI batsman (2007-2010), Kallis did much better against Australia, scoring 421 in ten innings at a strike rate of 80.65. He had a bad tour to England in 2008, though, scoring only 68 in five games, but overall in those four years, Kallis was clearly among the leading ODI batsmen, combining a high average with an impressive strike rate. Among those who scored at least 2000 runs during that period, only five batsmen had a better batting index (average multiplied by runs per ball).

The top batsmen in ODIs between 2007 and 2010 (Qual: 2000 runs)
Batsman Inngs Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s Bat index*
Virender Sehwag 63 2624 43.01 119.81 6/ 12 51.53
AB de Villiers 79 3369 51.83 92.83 9/ 21 48.11
Sachin Tendulkar 66 3061 51.01 90.10 6/ 19 45.96
MS Dhoni 100 3998 54.02 84.63 5/ 27 45.72
Shivnarine Chanderpaul 52 2419 62.02 72.92 7/ 16 45.22
Jacques Kallis 62 2675 54.59 81.45 3/ 23 44.46
* Batting average multiplied by runs scored per ball

Of the 11,579 runs he scored in ODIs, 7774 of them - or 67% of his aggregate - were at No. 3. Only two batsmen - Ricky Ponting and Kumar Sangakkara - have scored more ODI runs at that slot. Kallis' average was slightly higher than those of Ponting and Sangakkara, while his strike rate was marginally lower, which meant the overall batting index for all three (average multiplied by runs scored per ball) are very similar. Ponting is the runaway leader in terms of hundreds, though, with 29 from 330 innings, compared to Kallis' 13 from 200.

Batsmen with most ODI runs at No. 3
Batsman Inngs Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s Bat index*
Ricky Ponting 330 12,662 42.48 80.73 29/ 74 34.29
Kumar Sangakkara 212 8319 42.44 78.77 12/ 59 33.43
Jacques Kallis 200 7774 45.72 73.74 13/ 57 33.71
Dean Jones 131 5100 43.58 72.07 7/ 39 31.41
Brian Lara 106 4447 45.84 85.98 12/ 26 39.41
Marvan Atapattu 120 4142 38.35 66.33 4/ 33 25.44
Rahul Dravid 109 4000 38.83 69.60 7/ 27 27.03
Richie Richardson 129 3984 35.25 64.89 4/ 30 22.87
Virat Kohli 86 3975 53.00 91.10 13/ 23 48.28
* Batting average multiplied by runs scored per ball

Where Kallis scored over the other batting specialists, though, was in his bowling contributions. As mentioned earlier, in his peak years he bowled an average of almost seven overs per match, which gave the team the luxury of playing an extra batsman. He is one of only four allrounders to achieve the double of 5000 runs and 200 wickets in ODIs - the others are Jayasuriya, Shahid Afridi and Abdul Razzaq. Among those four, Kallis has the best allround index (batting index divided by bowling index, where bowling index is the bowling average multiplied by the runs conceded per ball).

The table below shows that Kallis is the only one among the four with a higher batting average than bowling average. However, the other three all have better strike rates than Kallis, which props up their batting index scores. The economy rates are similar, but Afridi's is the best among the lot.

Kallis also achieved the double of 75 runs and three wickets in a match four times in his career, twice each against India and Pakistan. Only two players - Jayasuriya and Shoaib Malik - achieved it more often. (Click here for the full list of players who've performed this all-round act in an ODI.)

Allrounders with 5000+ runs and 200+ wickets in ODIs
Player Matches Runs Ave/ SR 100s/ 50s Wkts Ave/ ER Ave ratio*
Jacques Kallis 328 11,579 44.36/ 72.89 17/ 86 273 31.79/ 4.84 1.26
Abdul Razzaq 265 5080 29.70/ 81.25 3/ 23 254 31.83/ 4.69 0.97
Sanath Jayasuriya 445 13,430 32.36/ 91.20 28/ 68 323 36.75/ 4.78 1.01
Shahid Afridi 378 7619 23.44/ 115.61 6/ 36 378 33.89/ 4.62 1.04
* Bat index divided by bowling index

The multiple strings to Kallis' bow also gave him more opportunities to win the Man-of-the-Match award in ODIs, a feat he achieved 32 times, which is third on the all-time list. The only players with more awards are Tendulkar (62) and Jayasuriya (48), both of whom are also ahead of Kallis in the matches per award stat.

However, Kallis doesn't fare badly in that aspect either. His rate of winning these awards was better than Ponting's and Afridi's, and about as good as Adam Gilchrist's, which is a fair achievement considering how explosive those players are.

Of the 32 match-awards he won, there were only two when he didn't score a half-century. One of those was against West Indies in Dhaka in 1998, when he scored 37 and took 5 for 30 to help South Africa to a four-wicket win. That match was the final of the Wills International Cup, which later became known as Champions Trophy. That remains the only ICC tournament that South Africa have won. The aim was to prolong his ODI career to have one final shot at the World Cup, in 2015, but a poor series in Sri Lanka has ensured that it won't happen. Despite the lack of a World Cup triumph, Kallis' ODI career has been an outstanding one, with all-round highs that few have achieved.

Most MoM awards in ODIs
Player Matches Awards Matches/award
Sachin Tendulkar 463 62 7.47
Sanath Jayasuriya 445 48 9.27
Jacques Kallis 328 32 10.25
Ricky Ponting 375 32 11.72
Shahid Afridi 378 32 11.81
Sourav Ganguly 311 31 10.03
Viv Richards 187 31 6.03
Aravinda de Silva 308 30 10.27
Brian Lara 299 30 9.97
Adam Gilchrist 287 28 10.25
Saeed Anwar 247 28 8.82

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

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Comments: 26 
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Posted by Dummy4 on (August 4, 2014, 23:52 GMT)

@ thozar could you please explain what you mean by Kallis failing miserably as a Captain? he only led SA a few time across all formats and has about a 50% win/loss record which coincidentally is actually a fair bit better than Sachin's? As for the Hero Cup richardson and mcmillan ran themselves out first ball leaving donald to face last 5 balls and lets face if you couldn't bowl to Donald then you shouldn't be on a cricket pitch lol. Now for Sachin's batting being so much better than Kallis how have you worked that out? tests Kallis has a better average and not far behind in century counts in fewer games in ODI's there is very little difference in averages. And Tendulkars Batting Average against SA was not great in either format - they are both legands and should be celebrated as such not diminsh their achievements

Posted by Friend on (August 4, 2014, 3:14 GMT)

@Kingman75, yes, I predicted India to win 5-0. Unfortunately, we lost Ishant to injury in the 3rd test. The English prepared a flat pitch in the first test and escaped with a draw. It looks like the 4th test will also be a draw as the weather will play a part. I am sure India will win the 5th test.

I agreed that Kallis will be the second best ever across all formats. Definitely in tests. But, in ODIs, there are so many other players who are better. Ganguly, Yuvraj, Gibbs, Gayle, Dhoni, Kohli, Yousuf, Inzamam, Misbah, Younis, Chanderpaul, Pietersen are all great players. I agree Kallis is good but he was very slow like Dravid. They both were well suited for tests.

Bradman played in an era which no one knows about. And he was only a batsman. And played mainly against only one team and only in 2 countries. Sobers was good but it was easy playing those days. So, he will get 3rd place in the best ever list.

Posted by Friend on (August 4, 2014, 3:09 GMT)


I admit I got the tournaments mixed up. It was the hero cup semi-final vs SA in 1993. Just FYI, here is the link to that scorecard:


SA needed 6 runs off the last over with 2 wickets and a set batsman (McMillan) in one end. Tendulkar bowled the last over and gave only 3 runs to hand India a victory with 2 runs. Azharuddin was the captain and he trusted Sachin with that crucial last over.

Sachin led India to victory over the same RSA in the 1996 Titan cup and scored a crucial 67. Since he was captain and opening batsman, he didn't bowl that game. That match and tournament proved his credentials as a leader (an aspect in which Kallis failed miserably). Also remember that Sachin led India to a 2-1 victory over the same opponents in the test series that season.

Posted by Bunnie on (August 3, 2014, 6:32 GMT)

@thozar, when you wake up again on planet earth, you'll find that no one knows what the Titan Cup is, Tendulkar never was a good bowler, Kallis did better than Tendulkar in Tests, Sobers and Bradman are acknowledged to be the greatest cricketers of all time and that England and India are level in the Test series despite your woeful prediction that India would win 5- nil

Posted by Dummy4 on (August 3, 2014, 2:02 GMT)

Wow I cant believe people just refuse to acknowledge Kallis as a great player its truly staggering. No player in the history of the game has never failed and cost their team a victory at some point in their lives!!!! The fact that Kallis has so many man of the match and man of the series awards in both tests and ODI's is testimont to his contribution to the SA team. People also tend to forget that Kallis played the majority of his cricket on SA pitches where scoring runs freely isnt that easy! Many great players have struggled in SA. And as for him having no flair and not being able to score quickly, The SA team with him in it won a lot more games and series than they lost!!!! And finally for all those that keep going on that he bats to slowly 1 guess who holds the record for the fastest test 50 in balls faced????

Kallis you where a truely great cricketer and SA cricket will miss you and will be much weaker without you striding onto the pitch. Enjoy your retirement you earned it

Posted by Friend on (August 2, 2014, 19:07 GMT)

Lara had very poor average against India. The only player who had terrific average against all teams in all countries was Sachin. Some fans are getting carried away by Kallis' bowling. They conveniently forget tht Sachin's batting alone is greater than the allround abilities of other players. Sachin was no ordinary bowler also. Did you know he wanted to be a medium pacer? n the 90s, he was always bowling the crucial last over of the game. He won games with his bowling too. Who can forget Titan cup when he bowled the last over for India against South Africa and won the game? Because his batting was too valuable, the team wanted him to concentrate more on that. That is why he did not bowl too much. Otherwise, he will also have similar numbers as Kallis in bowling. Sachin was also a great fielder (both slips and outfielding) and was also a good captain. The complete cricketer. But, I would rank Kallis as second best ever across all formats. In ODIs alone, there are others.

Posted by Friend on (August 2, 2014, 18:55 GMT)

Second greatest cricketer ever, next only to Tendulkar. Legend. Salute. Cricket fans all over the world will miss him.

Posted by Ananth on (August 2, 2014, 16:20 GMT)

We don't need stats to prove he was a great player; at the same time if you are a serious cricket watcher and played even club cricket, you understand the game and know that regardless of stats, sachin and Lara stand out - for sheer talent, all round stroke making in all conditions, against all comers, influencing games almost single handed and drawing spectators. And I am amazed esp at some so called indian cricket followers about their negativity towards a man, who is up there in every kind of discussion amongst great players having started at 16 when most of us were learning how to shave. We should be proud

Posted by Billy on (August 2, 2014, 10:04 GMT)

@shane-oh, I know there are facts that decisively prove that Kallis is not one of the greatest Test batsmen of all time, but they must be counterbalanced by facts that decisively prove he was.

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.
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