Rob Steen
Rob Steen Rob SteenRSS FeedFeeds  | Archives
Sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton

What about Kallis?

Lara, Tendulkar and Ponting may all stake their claims, but when picking your top batsman of this century, you overlook South Africa's finest at your peril

Rob Steen

March 7, 2012

Comments: 131 | Text size: A | A

Brian Lara drives on his way to an unbeaten 153, West Indies v Australia, 3rd Test, Barbados, 5th day, March 30, 1999
Lara: a constant source of wide-eyed wonder © Getty Images

With his customary erudite insight, Ian Chappell recently analysed the titanic triumverate generally held to be the three finest batsmen of this young century: Brian Lara, Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar. Lara, he attested with a defiant lack of patriotism, pressed his buttons most insistently, most notably the penchant for lofty scores, the deftness against spin and that Sinatraesque determination to do it his way and his way alone. So far, so unarguable.

Lara probably presses even more of my own buttons. Of all the batsmen I have had the privilege to watch he was the most ravishing (strictly in the consensual, non-sexual sense): a constant source of wide-eyed wonder. That flamboyant, predatory curlicue of a backlift proclaimed that any stroke, anything, was within his compass. That unbeaten Aussie-stunning 153 in Bridgetown in 1999 remains the finest exposition of batsmanship I have ever witnessed.

Given the poverty of the supporting cast, furthermore, the burden he bore would have crippled a lesser mortal. Consider the following (and for the purposes of this analysis, let's just say that Test averages are the be-all and end-all). Tendulkar averages 55.44, best of the trinity; three of his contemporary countrymen have amassed at least 7000 runs at 46 or better; five totted up 14 centuries or more. Ponting averages precisely two runs fewer than Tendulkar; no fewer than five colleagues have racked up at least 4500 runs at 49 or better, as well as 15-plus hundreds. Lara averaged 53.17; his most consistent team-mates were Shivnarine Chanderpaul (44.60) and Carl Hooper (40.04), who combined for 26 centuries - fully eight fewer than Lara accumulated.

What, then, of the lustre of the bowlers? All three titans had to contend with Muttiah Muralitharan, Test cricket's most prolific wicket-snaffler, Shaun Pollock (eighth), Wasim Akram (ninth), Makhaya Ntini (12th), Waqar Younis (15th), Allan Donald (20th) and Darren Gough (46th), at or near their peak. True, Tendulkar and Ponting had a fair few tussles with Courtney Walsh (fifth) and Curtly Ambrose (11th), both of whom were frequently in Lara's corner. Unlike Tendulkar, however, Lara was obliged to tackle Anil Kumble (third), Harbhajan Singh (tenth) and Javagal Srinath (44th); unlike Ponting, he had to face Shane Warne (second) and Glenn McGrath (fourth), not to mention Brett Lee (22nd), Jason Gillespie (33rd) and Stuart MacGill (55th). Between the retirements of Walsh and Lara, the West Indies' most formidable pie-chucker was Pedro Collins, the all-time No. 142. And for all that he oversaw a drastic depression in Caribbean well being, Lara improved his output as captain, averaging 57.83, unlike Ponting (51.51) and Tendulkar (51.35).

Ponting, though, has been the one for seizing initiatives: nothing Lara or Tendulkar produced when nerves jangled most comes close to that contemptuous 140 at Jo'burg in the 2003 World Cup final. Nor, across all formats, can either match that 64.18 average and 31 centuries when toss has been lost and match won. Then there was that eight-year purple patch from the start of 1999 to the end of 2006, when Ponting piled up 8114 Test runs at 65. To take the most illuminating comparison, over his eight-year stretch as the world's unchallenged No. 1, from the start of the post-Packer era to the end of 1986, Viv Richards averaged 52. Even allowing for pitch-friendly inflation, that's a considerable gap. Vivi's proudest eight-year run, from 1976 to 1983, saw him average 60; given that he and Ponting both had the planet's best attack behind them, you'd say those streaks were equal.

Lara also showed it was possible to scale distant early peaks and still improve with age. He may have endured a recession far longer and deeper than Ponting or Tendulkar ever experienced (his overall average shrank from 60.96 to 45.63 between 1995 and 2001), but then came that startling second wind.

In his final 50 Tests Lara averaged 61.82 and collected 19 of his 34 hundreds. Eight came in his last 35 knocks, all against good-to-powerful attacks, including two doubles and three more scores of 150-plus. His last 15 Tests yielded 1425 runs at 50.89, including 216 in his penultimate outing. Over the past 12 months, by contrast, Tendulkar averages a whisper over 37; over the past two years, notwithstanding that recent rampage against India, Ponting 39.44. It's the lack of obvious successors that has kept them in the side, together, in Tendulkar's case, with that matchless box-office appeal.

Lara, moreover, timed his retirement with the astuteness that marked his business ventures. When he stopped playing Tests, after all, he was heading the all-time run-makers and held the records for highest and third-highest individual scores. True, it might have been nice for team-mates, board and supporters had he stayed around a bit longer, but better, far better, to leave 'em wanting more.

HANG ON, THOUGH: surely our trio should be a quartet? For all his feats and constancy, Jacques Kallis tends to slip under the radar when it comes to idolatry. The most obvious reasons are 1) South Africans have less passion for flannelled foolishness than Indians, Australians or Trinidadian-Tobagans, and 2) we never get to glimpse beneath that mask of immaculate professionalism. The continued absence of a hardbacked homage, even a ghosted Jacques the Lad-type autobiography, suggests there may not be all that much there, but many blanker personalities have lent their names to such potboilers. As a consequence, Kallis commands more awe than affection.

Statistically he loses nothing by comparison - quite the opposite. Over the past ten years he has averaged 63 in Tests. Up to the start of play in Dunedin, his past 50 five-dayers had brought 4320 runs at 58.37 and 17 hundreds. Granted, over his 150 Tests he has certainly enjoyed oodles of support - five team-mates have averaged over 45 and contributed more than a dozen centuries apiece - yet if he has been fortunate not to confront Donald, Ntini, Pollock, Morne Morkel or Dale Steyn, he is alone among our fearsome foursome in having tackled all five members of the 500 Club.

Jacques Kallis gets to his first century against Sri Lanka, South Africa v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Cape Town, 1st day, January 3, 2012
Kallis: don't call him spent © AFP

More than any of the aforementioned, even Lara, the winter of his career has seen Kallis flourish afresh. Having faltered from a career-high 58.20 to 54.37 between November 2007 and February 2009, his past six series have seen that overall mean rebound to 57.02, putting him back atop the active tree. In those 15 matches Kallis has stockpiled 1620 runs at 81, assisted by eight centuries, including his first two doubles. Tendulkar may have racked up more Test hundreds (12 in 73 innings) than anyone else aged 35-plus, but at 87.23 from 17 innings, Kallis averages more since joining that fraternity than anyone bar Bradman (105.72). Over the past two years, only AB de Villiers (89.13) has averaged more than his 83.35.

He also happens to be the ultimate modern allrounder, and not simply because of those 550 international wickets. After all, his average exceeds all three rivals in Tests, ODIs and T20s. Indeed, of those who have had six or more innings across all formats in the past two years , only de Villiers and Alastair Cook average more than Kallis' 60.28. That he has adapted so belligerently to the shortest form, confounding his critics, is perhaps the greatest tribute to his ability to meet a challenge. Witness, too, the response to that pair against Sri Lanka in Durban, his first in Tests, which he followed with a match-winning double-century in the very next encounter. Call him Ever-Ready; call him Duracell; just don't call him spent.

Two snapshots from last week's ODI in Napier. An early wicket appeared to give him no pleasure whatsoever. Then, having completed a fine catch toppling backwards, he confined any outward expression of joy to a blink-and-you'll-miss-it gap-toothed smile. Just another wicket. Just another catch. The Iceman cometh - and just keeps on cometh-ing. Basil D'Oliveira, another South African who knew a bit about self-restraint, recalled being chided by Peter May after letting his emotions get the better of him during a Test against West Indies: the message, deduced Dolly, was spot-on - "an angry bloke is half a man". Kallis learned that long ago.

His public persona is well-groomed. Sure, he got a little hot under the collar when South Africa's Test series against Australia last year was compressed into two instalments, but with a microphone shoved under his nose he comes across as polite, gentle, shy and almost insanely modest. Witness a brief YouTube interview in 2010 with Anusha Dandekar in which he claims, only half-chucklingly, that the secret of his success lies in being "a good barbecuer". Yet when Anusha asks him to cite the greatest cricketer of all - "besides Jacques Kallis of course" - he doesn't go all "aw shucks" and reel off a list of superiors but plumps unhesitatingly for Bradman, purely on figures. He knows that's how he, too, will be judged. Not by style or heroism or inspirational qualities but by the cold, hard, unmeltable currency of numbers. The words of that bonny 18th century Scotsman James Thomson might have been written with him in mind:

Pure was the temperate air, an even calm
Perpetual reigned, save what the zephyrs bland
Breathed o'er the blue expanse.

The jury remains out, and probably always will be, so let's be democratic out there. Aesthetic standard-bearer: Tendulkar. Sensual adventurer: Lara. Momentum-shifter: Ponting. Matter of life or death-er: Kallis.

15:00:45 GMT. Corrected to state that Kallis made a double-century in his Test after the pair in Durban

Rob Steen is a sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton

RSS Feeds: Rob Steen

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by timtom on (March 21, 2012, 5:26 GMT)

Rob - the trio were pure entertainers... THey brought crowd to stadium.. For all the runs collected,I wud`nt bracket even ponting with Sach/Lara... JK is definitely not an entertainer...His batting can put you off...History wud say JK as the best ever existed... As viewers of present generation that is`nt the case.

Posted by csowmi7 on (March 10, 2012, 17:14 GMT)

Arguments like Tendulkar is a flat track bully and can only score in India are baseless comments. If the pitches in India are so flat then please tell me why Lara has never scored a century in India, and why Ponting averages a paltry 22 and has gotten out to another flat track bully Harbhajan Singh so many times. Hard and cold facts. Tendulkar has scored 29 centuries abroad out of which (15 have come in SA, Eng, Aus) 5 less than the total number of centuries by Lara and averages 3.66 tests per century compared to Lara's 3.85 tests per century.

Posted by csowmi7 on (March 10, 2012, 5:15 GMT)

For those of you who say that Lara was a match winner and Tendulkar did not score in crunch situations. Out of Lara's 34 centuries only 7 came in winning causes wheras out of Tendulkar's 51 centuries 20 have led to victories a far better win percentage. In fact Lara's mammoth 400 and 375 only led to draws. People say that tendulkar is a selfish player. In fact it seems that Lara is the selfish player. Ponting was a match winner only because his amazing bowling attack allowed him to be. The fact that Tendulkar scored when the team failed only shows how much better he is than the rest.

Posted by shawshank on (March 9, 2012, 20:57 GMT)

Awesome article! Everybody should also read this - [ ] article By Nubers Game specialist S. Rajesh. It reveals some very interesting facts that the Ten,Pont and Lara supporters might find very disturbing.Also plz Keep in mind the no of wickets Kallis took during this period.i bet if any captain had to choose a player among these 4 for his team, he would say 'tendulkar is the best batsman of all time, ponting is a natural match winner, lara can destroy any bowling attack in the world...' and then he would select Kallis for his team.

Posted by jay57870 on (March 9, 2012, 11:37 GMT)

Rob - What were you thinking in your opening salvo of Ian Chappell's "erudite insight"? "Scholarly Ian"? Joke? OMG! Everyone knows Ian is a flip-flopper who uses the bully pulpit to dish out half-baked opinions & misguided prophecies with no substantive data to back up his silly "use-by-date" theories. Remember his demeaning "Mirror, mirror on the wall" message to Tendulkar in 2007? Ian's been dead wrong time & again. Sachin lets his bat do the talking. He will play on as long as he wants to. Look at his incredible Staying Power - physical endurance & mental toughness - to play 22 long years (6 more than the other four stars) and excel in all three formats around the globe. Yes, we know of his amazing 99 centuries. Note also: He's the first man to score an ODI double ton (against a strong SA attack) and the only one (among the five) to score a T20 century! Rob calls Kallis "Ever-Ready" & "Duracell." I call Tendulkar the "Energizer Bunny" who keeps going and going and going ... !!!

Posted by jay57870 on (March 9, 2012, 11:27 GMT)

Yes Rob: Kallis should be in. So also Dravid (just retired). What class! Both deserve to be in the quintet of great modern batsmen. Now, who is best of the best? Look at key career stats -- Total runs/No. of centuries/Batting average -- in the game's three formats combined. To date, the three stats for each player are: Tendulkar -- 33,734/99/49.03; Ponting -- 27,305/71/46.51; Kallis -- 24,270/58/50.04; Dravid -- 24,208/48/45.41; Lara -- 22,358/53/46.28; The outcome: Tendulkar is far ahead in all measures by a wide margin, except batting ave. where he's marginally below Kallis. In fact, his performance is the most dominant of all! Compare Sachin to Ricky, the next best performer: He is so far ahead by 6,429 runs & 28 tons. It's mind-boggling, the gaps alone are so close to what the great Bradman achieved - 6,996 runs & 29 tons - in his entire Test career! You do the math. Kallis is in 3rd place, while Dravid & Lara fill up the Top 5 slots. No contest: Sachin is the best of the best!!!

Posted by ankursachin on (March 9, 2012, 9:32 GMT)

Tendulkar definitely is the greatest. 11 Test century until age of 23; 9 of which came out of India against the best attack, bowler friendly conditions, shouldering responsibility of a fragile team. Sachin has the ability of scoring runs all round field picking the ball from the same spot. He can drive the ball and can equally improvise and can flick the same bowl or can play on drive. Watch him playing in his infancy, he was a clinical hitter of the bowl and played lot of innings at a strike rate of above 100 against the best attack all round the world. Sachin is a part time bowler and still has picked up 154 wickets in ODI. He is true genius of the game.

Posted by Highflyer_GP on (March 9, 2012, 9:17 GMT)

@harshthakor: Sobers' bowling strike rate was really poor. I don't know why people try to rate previous greats who they've never seen play. Kallis is the greatest ever cricketer. Period. And nobody else has more Man Of The Match awards, so I don't buy that nonsense about him not being a matchwinner for his team.

Posted by ankursachin on (March 9, 2012, 9:13 GMT)

Comparison totally on the basis of stats is the most misleading information a writer owe to his reader. Stats do speak a lot about a player but not about his character. Tendulkar is class apart, the most improvised player no one can beat is range of shots and his ability to score runs freely all round the corner esp on good deliveries. Tendulkar don't believe in putting away the loose deliveries. Ponting known for his dominance, Lara for his own idiosyncratic style batting. Knowing all this you experts, writers, ex-cricketers ask yourself and you will find the answer why Kallis is still not consider above than Tendulkar, Ponting, Lara.

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (March 9, 2012, 8:14 GMT)


Posted by csowmi7 on (March 9, 2012, 5:01 GMT)

Kallis is probably the best cricketer in this generation but on pure batting tendulkar is the best. If Lara was so adept against spin he would have scored a century in India a feat he failed at. For all his worth he was inconsistent. Ponting also struggled on the so called flat pitches of India and was Harbhajan's bunny averaging 12.8 in India. If the pitches in India are so batsman friendly why hasn't the great Lara scored a century on them? Tendulkar on the other hand has scored multiple centuries in Australia(6), England(4) and SA(5). Add to that his immense ODI record which is far beyond comparison.

Posted by harshthakor on (March 9, 2012, 3:41 GMT)

Jacques Kallis is statistically the greatest cricketer but stats can never reveal the true story.Kallis could hardly overturn a match with both bat and ball like Gary Sobers or even Miller and Botham.Gary Sobers is in a different league from the rest.I agree Kallis has to ranked amongst the greatest cricketers but he is still overshadowed by Tendulkar and Lara ,who made considerably greater impact on games.Overall as a cricketer Bradman and Sobers are in a different league,closely followed by Grace,Warne,Hobbs,Tendulkar,Viv Richards and Imran in that order.Tendulkar has virtually defined the game in the modern age.

Posted by harshthakor on (March 9, 2012, 3:32 GMT)

I agree that at his best Brian Lara was the best batsman of the modern era.Lara had the penchant for registering mammoth scores at a breathtaking scoring rate like no modern great batsman and at his best could change the complexion of game or overturn a crisis more than Tendulkar or Ponting.The 1999 Frank Worrel Trophy where he scored 546 runs including a brilliant 153 not out to almost win the series for his team after all seemed lost is the best illustration.Lara bore the brunt of a weak team more than any great batsmen since Sir George Headley.Above all he posessed creative genius unequaled in the modern era.What let Lara down was his inconsistency,where Tendulkar scored over him.

Ponting had the advantage of playing for a champion team and also suffered from a great reversal of form for 12 months,which is not mentioned.As match-winner and player of pace bowling I agree Ponting tops the list.In pure test Cricket perhaps Lara wins,but overall Sachin is the king!

Posted by harshthakor on (March 9, 2012, 3:16 GMT)

The analysis on Tendulkar's last 10 innings is unfair as he has had a considerably longer career than Brian Lara.Tendulkar's herculean comeback from 2009 to 2011 virtually proved he was the greatest batsmen of this era where he averaged over 90 runs in a period of a year and a half.No batsman in the history of the game has reached the respective 1000 run landmarks at such a young age or dominated the game for such a considerable period.

No great batsman has faced the pressure of Sachin ,who is arguably the most complete batsman of all.He posesses every ingredient of the perfect batsman-technique,temperament ability to save and win matches,consistency ,ability to dominate the best bowling attacks and ability to adapt on all types of wickets.From Aug 1997 to Dec 2001 he scored 3802 runs at 67.89 which was unequaled.No batsman will ever possibly equal Tendualkar's combined stats of 30,000 runs and 99 centuries.The best cricketer of the modern generation.

Posted by   on (March 9, 2012, 2:50 GMT)

Great article and great batsmen these four.. For me it's Lara. He played at least 30 less test matches than the rest, was more attacking, made the best bowlers look ordinary better than the others. Stats cannot be the determining factor among these four since they all have great stats.The bottom line question is who would you want to see when at his best? LARA hands down.

Posted by Captain_Oblivious on (March 9, 2012, 0:03 GMT)

Yes, I don't know why Kallis is often the forgotten man of cricket. The guy is a legend, and arguably the greatest overall cricketer since Sobers. I guess Kallis was never as flamboyant as Ponting, Tendulkar and Lara, but if you want a player who gives high quality performance year-in-year-out in all conditions, Kallis is the man. Tendulkar is the most overrated of this quartet I feel. I remember all the great match and series winning innings from Lara, Ponting and Kallis, but I'm seriously having a hard time finding them for Tendulkar. I always rated Dravid and Laxman as the more influential series deciders of 2001 and 03/04 when they played against my team (Australia). Those guys were hard professionals who saved their best against the best.

Posted by   on (March 8, 2012, 21:37 GMT)

@cricfanraj The solution to your problem is obvious: Leave out one of the other players mentioned, but how do you plan on leaving out Kallis when his batting average is superior to every other modern player?,, let alone being greatest all rounder of all time. 550 wickets, 300 catches.

Posted by S.Jagernath on (March 8, 2012, 19:14 GMT)

@Pallathz...Brian Lara managed that 375 & 400 mainly due to the fact that the ground he scored them at is so flat that it since has been stopped from hosting test cricket.Both those innings are not a real reflection Lara's real abilities,they just boosted his average.He benefitted from those flat pitches a lot like Mahela Jayawardene & Kumar Sangakkara do in Sri Lanka.Jacques Kallis is another batsman who struggles in good bowling conditions against quality bowling.

Posted by jay57870 on (March 8, 2012, 18:27 GMT)

Rob, what were you thinking in your opening salvo of Ian Chappell's "erudite insight"? Meaning scholarly? Really? Everyone knows Ian is a flip-flopper who uses the bully pulpit to dish out half-baked opinions & misguided prophecies with no substantive data to back up his silly "use-by-date" theories. Remember his demeaning "Mirror, mirror on the wall" message to Tendulkar in 2007? Ian's been dead wrong time & again. Sachin lets his bat do the talking. He will play on as long as he wants to. Look at his incredible Staying Power -- physical endurance & mental toughness -- to play 22 long years (6 more than the other four) and excel in all three formats around the globe. We all know of his amazing 99 centuries. Note also: He's the first man to score an ODI double ton (against a strong SA attack) plus the only one (among the five) to score a T20 century. If Rob can call Kallis "Ever-Ready" & "Duracell," then Tendulkar is the "Energizer Bunny" who keeps going and going and going ... !!!

Posted by jay57870 on (March 8, 2012, 18:16 GMT)

Yes, Rob: Kallis should be in. So also Dravid (soon to retire). Both deserve to be in the quintet of great modern batsmen. Now, who is best of the best? Let's look at key career stats -- Total runs/No. of centuries/Batting average -- in the game's three formats combined. To date, the three stats for each player are: Tendulkar -- 33,734/99/49.03; Ponting -- 27,305/71/46.51; Kallis -- 24,270/58/50.04; Dravid -- 24,208/48/45.41; Lara -- 22,358/53/46.28; The outcome is obvious: Tendulkar is far ahead by a wide margin, except batting ave. where he's marginally below Kallis. In fact, his performance no doubt is the most dominant of all! Compare Sachin to Ricky, the next best performer: He is so far ahead by 6,429 runs & 28 tons. It's mind-boggling, these margins are so close to what the great Bradman achieved - 6,996 runs & 29 tons - in his entire Test career! You do the math. Kallis is in 3rd place, while Dravid & Lara fill up the Top 5 slots. No contest: Tendulkar is the best of the best!!

Posted by   on (March 8, 2012, 17:56 GMT)

hahahahha..its funny how most of the indian fans does not regard kallis as one of the greatest cricketer..wake up guys..he averages more than your sachin tendulkar in both the tests and odis..till 2-3 years earlier, his bowling average used to be almost same as ur most striking bowlers harbhajan and zaheer..He has the most number of centuries and he has scored the highest amount of runs in this decade..I am not saying sachin is not great but kallis also can be regarded as one of the greatest cricketers..Dont be biased to your country..Sachin started playing from the age of 16 and he has played pocket full of matches..thats the only difference..

Posted by   on (March 8, 2012, 13:53 GMT)

Love the article, just one little correction. The phrase Trinidadian-Tobagans doesn't exist. Being a Trini we refer to ourselves as Trinibagonians when we incorporate the two islands. Trinis for Trinidadians and Tobagonians for those from the sister aisle.

Posted by PallathZ on (March 8, 2012, 13:20 GMT)

Lara,for me the Worlds best batsmen after Richards.To score 375 is a monumental task..To score 501 in a county game,unbelievable.To reclaim his position as the Highest run scorer with 400 is herculean...Miracle..

To consistently score 2 double hundreds in a series against Murali in SriLanka is magic...Salute Brian Lara...for uniting the West Indies during his playing days

To take 500 wickets ,150 odd catches,score tons of Runs....Jack Kallis is a legend..Salute his allround skills & exemplery batting...

To carry the burden of a nation & to ensure his consistency & to be in the same batting form with impeccable integrity...its Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar...How many times ,series after series ,even in Australia,when he bats,have we heard,he looks to be in fine touch...Salute the God of Indian cricket...

Ponting for me the demolition man.Captain of the Australian World cup winning team twice & almost unparalled when it comes to pure demolition job...Saluting Ponting the Punter...

Posted by cricfanraj on (March 8, 2012, 10:54 GMT)

I didn't like this article. It just shows we desparately want to increase the great list so the bar has come down.I believe that Kallis is a very good player . But if Kallis can be great who can get into all time greats then there are 100 such players who can be added to list if you change the parameters . Every era had lot of very good batsmen who can be considered as great for a shot period. Let us use the word GREAT sparingly. For this generation only Sachin and Lara qualifies for all time greats. Period. If you are preparing list for this decade or last two you add all these names but not when you talk about all time greats.

Posted by   on (March 8, 2012, 10:30 GMT)

When you talk about the best batsman, There's no one close to sachin. The most complete batsman ever. He could demolish attacks or bat to save a match. His confrontations with Mcgrath,warne are epics. Just so pleasing to the eye. Lara comes distant 2nd as he was very inconsistent. Sachin has better records against the quality bowlers when they were face to face. He has better away average.Sachin averaged 58 in 1990s which was arguably the toughest era of batting. And add to that the pressure of billions of overambitious indians who love cricket like anything. He is a god in our country. Playing for 22 years is just amazing while being the best batsman. He scored tons against aus,sa,eng when he was not even 20. It tells about his talent. If not for his dozens of injuries, he would still have dominated the attacks like 90s. He would have murdered these attacks in 2000s. In short, Sachin>>lara>>>>>ponting,kallis.

Posted by Pablo123 on (March 8, 2012, 8:59 GMT)

Yes this is a great Article Rob, but I beg all of you to read this one, it is an even more intriguing read. - By Nubers Game specialist S. Rajesh

Posted by   on (March 8, 2012, 8:10 GMT)

As Geoffrey Boycott pointed out, Jacques Kallis is his best Test Cricketer of all time. 12000 runs and closing in on 300 wicket with 180 catches. What a work rate! His might not win an oscar for his batting unlike Tendulkar, Ponting or the great entertainer himslef Brian Lara but facts are facts!

Posted by micklem on (March 8, 2012, 7:46 GMT)

If a batsman played lot of matches in batting tracks his records definitely will be much better.Thats was Tendulkars record.Lara,Ponting and Kallis are very much better than Tendulkar.If kallis did'nt had played vey slow in ODI's, I should have put him the greatest.I think Ponting is the best,because he had lot of suceess as a captain and it is not easy to perform and doing captaincy.Any body can argue that he captained a great side,but if ponting was not there Aus could'nt have reachetd that heights thats for sure..Not the case with with Tendulkar.

Posted by Romanticstud on (March 8, 2012, 7:05 GMT)

Great article ... I have always admired Jacques Kallis as an all-rounder ... But Most people forget that he has scored more sixes in tests than any of the other 3, 89, Lara 88, Ponting 73, Tendulkar 67 ... Now is he not attacking? ... In all forms of the game Lara averages a 6 every 1.94 games ... Kallis 2.01, Ponting 2.25, Tendulkar 2.49 ... How about adding the ball in hand ... He is 20th on the alltime wicket takers list at 550 ... Ponting is the 2nd best fielder and Kallis 4th ... Now who is missing? Dravid ... He is 3rd with catches as a fielder and 2nd to Tendulkar in runs scored in tests ... but not nearly as aggressive as the others with just 21 6s in tests ... Adam Gilchrist was the most aggressive 100 x 6s in 96 tests ... Sehwag only 88 in 96 tests ...

Posted by kantipur on (March 8, 2012, 6:33 GMT)

Tendulkar fan should stop giving baseless logic like SACHIN HAS PRESSURE OF BILLIONS OF FANS. Going by the same argument , if he has pressure of Billions of fans then he has a SUPPORT OF BILLIOINS OF FANS which other player like Lara , ponting and Kallis never had. Where ever sachin plays there are many indian supporter in the crowd that make him feel like playing at home.

Posted by Mervo on (March 8, 2012, 5:49 GMT)

Tendulakr is over rated and not in this company. Kallis and Ponting win hands down for runs scored, averages and matches won on their batting. Tendulkar just hangs around these days. Dravid also should have retired but was a great before the last year or two on slow wickets.

Posted by Sulli001 on (March 8, 2012, 5:38 GMT)

Why does Rahul Dravid continually get overlooked?, he as contributed to cricket as much if not more than Tendulkar, in fact if it wasn't for Dravid many of Sachins 100's may never have been scored. He truely plays within the spirit of cricket more so that Ponting in particular.

Posted by harshthakor on (March 8, 2012, 5:11 GMT)

Jacques Kallis,although statistically in the Lara-Tendulkar-Ponting class ,lacks the match-winning killer instinct and ability to consistently change the complexion of a game.I agree,his performances were phenomenal but Kallis has not revealed the flair or artistry of the likes of Tendulkar.Lara or Ponting.On occasions his slow batting has cost his team victories.

To bat for your life Kallis is arguably the best batsman with Rahul Dravid.However I would give Dravid the edge,because of his amazing consistency in a crisis,on bad wickets and great performances overseas.Kallis is amongst the greatest batsman of all to bat for your life with Alan Border,Steve Waugh,Javed Miandad,Rahul Dravid,Ian Chappel etc.However I place Kallis a notch below the Viv Richards or Sachin Tendulkars.

Posted by   on (March 8, 2012, 4:32 GMT)

All those analyses made to weigh these heavyweights for comparison is objective.How about keeping it simple? Just get a poll done by the premium bowlers of their era who have faced their tunes, Who better than them will know who is the best? All what you all are doing is just sit in a dark corner of a room on a pentium computer and use ur sense of arithmetics to seperate them apart.Even as a team member Mcgrath will know how good a player Ponting is as compared to those u have named. So there won't be much fuss.BTW there is just no point in trying venerate a particular one of them.Just let everyone have his idol.

Posted by itsagentlemansgame on (March 8, 2012, 4:28 GMT)

HI Rob. Nice article.. generally saying all things that are discussed over drinks by cricket lovers!! u will never settle the argument... but was is oversight or a simple lack of knowledge of the game that Rahul Dravid has scored 24177 runs in tests and ODI and is the second highest run scorer in tests! im sure he deserves a mention considering you are not concluding who is the best!! think about it! do let the readers know of your parameters of limiting the list to Tendulkar (God), Ponting, Lara and Kallis. Thanks.

Posted by landl47 on (March 8, 2012, 3:19 GMT)

It's rather sad that we are seeing the last year or two of these great cricketers. Lara is gone already; Tendulkar is 38, Ponting 37 and Kallis 36 (you can add in Dravid, also 38). Time and age wait for no man and although these players have defied it for longer than most, the end is very close now. I'm not sure we'll ever see such a group of all-time greats again. It's been a privilege to watch them all.

Posted by   on (March 8, 2012, 1:50 GMT)

Kallis is clearly the fourth best batsman of this era, just ahead of Hayden, Jayawardene and Sangakkara. Three things hold Kallis back from Ponting, Lara and Tendulkar though: 1) Lack of team success. You can't specifically blame Kallis for this, but what exactly has he won in his career with South Africa? 2) Lack of leadership. Kallis can fully concentrate on his batting as he has not stepped up and captained South Africa, or truly led them as their best batsman. 3) Aesthetics. Kallis is the least pleasant of the top 4 batsman to watch. Personally I feel he is a little selfish as a batsman, but I am an incredibly harsh judge when it comes to assessing the 'greats' of the game.

Posted by Meety on (March 8, 2012, 1:21 GMT)

@TATTUs - yes, but those FIVE years were Bradmanesque! @HatsforBats - I'd struggle to fit him in my All Time world 2nd XI. @KiwiRocker - I would say that Kallis is arguably the most prolific allrounder to have ever played the game. IMO - he is not as good as Sobers, Keith Miller & Imran Khan & Ian Botham as an allrounder, but then again 99.99% of cricketers who ever lived weren't either!! BTW - I have been seeing your anti-Sachin posts for years, I just don't think it's right to bag him to that extent, it lessons your arguements for other players IMO!

Posted by Meety on (March 8, 2012, 1:08 GMT)

The best I can say about kallis is that age has not seemed to have diminished him (yet), in fact, superficially he seems to be an even better batsmen now. I never rated him highly to begin with, as particularly in Oz v Saffa games, he never took the iniative, I would see him bat in a trance in ODIs, where the team goal did not seem to be in sync with whatever he was thinking. I think that is why he never really was considered captaincy material. To be as good/great a batsmen & be as useful with the ball, means he is one of the most prolific cricketers to have played the game. I thought about my top 10 best batsmen I have seen & IMO, he is not the best Saffa batsmen - that I would hand to KP (nice little dig at England fans). For what it is worth, my top 10 are (in order) 1. Lara, 2. G Chappell, 3. SRT, 4 Ponting (ahead of Dravid on PURE entertainment), 5. Dravid, 6. Richards, 7. Miandad (pest!), 8. Gavaskar, 9. S Waugh, 10 Sangakarra - with honourable mentions to KP, Kallis & Border.

Posted by rett on (March 8, 2012, 0:33 GMT)

It's simple really. The same reason that Viv is still held in great esteem while the statistically superior Ken Barrington rarely rates a mention.

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas_Atheist on (March 8, 2012, 0:09 GMT)

Good on you Rob. Long over-due. Kallis is sheer class and is easily the best cricketer since Sir Garfield Sobers. I wouldn't want to judge who is the best between the two. It is very painful to see that Kallis doesn't get mentioned when we are talking of the best batsmen of this era. I'm a huge fan of Lara and so I always want to think that Lara is the best of the modern day batsmen. But the impartial person in me always tells me that Kallis is a notch above Lara. Let us not talk of Sachin and Ponting alongside Kallis. They are fantastic batsmen but not in the surreal league of Kallis. It would be a shame and a huge question mark on the collective intelligence and knowledge of Cricinfo staff if you guys fail to put Kallis in Cricinfo's Legends of Cricket Video Series. I mean, this is plain injustice and ignorance if The Greatest Modern Day Batsmen and The Greatest Cricketer since Sir Gary isn't given his due recognition. Realise that King Kallis did us fans a favour by playing cricket.

Posted by Lallubhai on (March 7, 2012, 21:15 GMT)

PRESSURE, PRESSURE, PRESSURE of a billion people wanting him to succeed EVERY time he goes out to bat .Most people freeze up when there are 'only' 50million people watching them . How did Sachin Sir manage that & score tons of tons to put his team into a favourable position on so many occasions ?

Posted by S.Jagernath on (March 7, 2012, 20:48 GMT)

Jacques Kallis constantly gets bounced out & struggles against quality seam bowling,he really covers up when its flat.Kallis is inferior as a batsmen.Brian Lara was only good against spin in conditions that don't spin a lot.Lara's average in India is miserable.Ricky Ponting is a lot similar to Lara,he is even worse against spin & gets bounced out occasionally.The only two batsmen with near flawless techniques & no real weaknesses are Rahul Dravid & Sachin Tendulkar.Dravid is probably the best technically,especially in tough conditions.Dravid's 117 at Trent Bridge was a perfect exhibition of quality batsmanship against quality seam & swing bowling on a fast & bouncing pitch.The excuse of Lara lacking partners is nonsens,the flat pitches that he often played on in the West Indies more than nulls that arguement.Tendulkar's brilliance in all condition,against all types of bowling surely secures him the top spot among his rivals.

Posted by hhillbumper on (March 7, 2012, 20:42 GMT)

Is anyone else getting bored stupid of always hearing about Tendulkar.this is an article about kallis and he is an excellent player but can he destroy an attack? It is all debatable and that is half the fun of it.

Posted by viswanav on (March 7, 2012, 20:36 GMT)

A brilliant article to complement the one written by Ian...The stats are staggering indeed!

Posted by sadha1972 on (March 7, 2012, 20:06 GMT)

kallis more interested in protecting his average,lara put his selfish quest for individual records first team 2nd and ponting had no pressure when batting because he played with a great team so tendulkar for me the greatest of them all.

Posted by   on (March 7, 2012, 19:47 GMT)

i can only laugh at the comments given by the same old record kiwirocker

Posted by StopSmoking on (March 7, 2012, 19:44 GMT)

Sad thing is SRT, Punter, Wall and King Kallis will retire within range of 3-4 years (approx. 2012-1015), then the real test for cricket begins. Let's see how they manage it pull fans. I am confident about India, lots of talent being nurtured at the moment, yes, even with IPL, I think India's batting future will hold. But can't say same about Australia and SA's batting future. And RE: article, those who have watched cricket during 90's - today, they all know the importance of Kallis. As they say, "You don't say".

Posted by bigdhonifan on (March 7, 2012, 19:09 GMT)

according to Kiwi Rocker best batsman of century is Shahid Afridi then Misba then Inzi then Anwar.. Lol...

Posted by bigdhonifan on (March 7, 2012, 19:03 GMT)

Lara and Sachin scored most of the grounds in whole world where Ricky and Kallis not. So Ricky ponting is an EPIC FAIL against quality spin. Where Kallis is very slow and not consistant. We can list the batsman class as CLASS A: 1. Sachin 2. Lara Class B. 1. Ricky 2. Dravid 3. Kallis

Posted by bigdhonifan on (March 7, 2012, 18:58 GMT)

Tendulkar and Lara is much better than Ponting and Kallis. Ponting and Kallis always palyed with a better bowling attack, so less runs to be scored and always be in comfortable because of lack of fielders in close-in positions. Tendulkar and Lara always played agains quality bowling attacks and faced pressure situations much more than other two. Tendulkar even have higher pressure than Lara because of the cricket crazy billion fans who expect him to score century each match. So 1. Tendulakr 2. Lara >>>>> 3. Ponting 4. Kallis

Posted by bigdhonifan on (March 7, 2012, 18:54 GMT)

Tendilkar> Lara> Ponting> Kallis

Posted by Kiran1994Dec on (March 7, 2012, 18:12 GMT)

Id ask WHAT ABOUT RAHUL DRAVID!?!?!?Cmon!!!2nd highest run getter in the world and a champion when it comes to playin cricket in its true form i.e. TEST CRICKET!!:(

Posted by serious-am-i on (March 7, 2012, 18:05 GMT)

stop the fuss comparing each great player. Just be happy that we were here to witness all these greats and for heaven's sake stop this idiotic business

Posted by LuvThyGame on (March 7, 2012, 17:35 GMT)

Kallis is not a match winner.. thats what separates him from the rest.. he probably works the hardest among the quartet.. is the most disciplined.. but cant dominate attacks... his fate is similar to Dravid's.. both technicians, put a huge price on their wicket, are more consistent.. but lack greatness..

Posted by sasi on (March 7, 2012, 16:50 GMT)

best cricinfo artical ever

Posted by sasi on (March 7, 2012, 16:50 GMT)

best cricinfo artical ever

Posted by maddinson on (March 7, 2012, 16:41 GMT)

neither Kallis nor the likes of Dravid, Chanderpaul and Mohd Yusuf etc are in the league of Tendulkar, Ponting and Lara. All these including Sanga and Mahela have poor records against best attack.

Posted by   on (March 7, 2012, 16:19 GMT)

kallis is the best cricketer in the world, not having him in your side will be stupid the oke has scored over 12000 runs and taken about 270 odd wickets, that means he is a bowler and a batsmen in one player which causes one to play another batsmen or bowler, there's no doubt in my mind that the greatest cricketer ever is kallis. even if he's strike rate is lower than the others it is test cricket and you get 5days to win a match so strike rate doesnt really matter. Hopefully Kallis will get the recognition now while he is still playing and not after he left the game and people realising what a player he was

Posted by kentjones on (March 7, 2012, 16:09 GMT)

Kallis is certainly no slouch with the bat and cannot be discounted whenever the names of best batsmen come around. Somehow though he lacks the excitement and thrill that people want, the thing that makes you get butterflies in the stomach when he is at bat. I am always amused when people use statistics to prove one batsman is better than the other. These people often forget that you pay to see the game played in real time with real excitement, hoping to see something that will thrill or excite you, to make you remember for a long time. There is one batsman I know that can provide that for me. Brian Charles Lara!. When Lara gets to the wicket and I am in the crowd (or even watching on the TV) there is always that sense of this could be the day he scores the most runs in an over (Lara did that, 28, 26), fastest century (Lara scored the third fastest century in ODI), a breathtaking double century (9 dc) a triple century (3 tc) or even go on to a quadruple century. you pay for that!

Posted by HLANGL on (March 7, 2012, 16:09 GMT)

Kallis, even at his peak, never had the same flair compared to the trio Lara, Ponting & T'kar. Kallis was a batsman with much lesser flair, with more limilations in his batting, he was more an accumulator of runs who only occasionally played the attacking game. In comparison, Lara, Ponting & T'kar, at their peak, were more complete batsmen having substantial flair. Kallis may be the leading batting allrounder the game has seen since Sir Garry Sobers. As a batsman, he may be in par with the likes of Steve Waugh, Kumar S'kara, etc. who may have not been precociously gifted as some others of their generation but have built substantial careers by playing the game within their limitations.

Posted by bismoy on (March 7, 2012, 15:17 GMT)

Good article.I will not consider dravid among the above 4.To be fair dravid was always a supporting batman to other batman.He scored when someone scored with him.Dravid may be indian legend,similar like ganguly,but nothing more.

A batman who has average below 40 in australia,sl and southafrica can't be consider global legend.

A batman can only be called great if he can able to play all 3 format and dominate..Sadly dravid knows only test..He is only good odi player and not a T20 player.Hence not a complete player like sachin ,lara,pointing or kallis.

Posted by   on (March 7, 2012, 15:13 GMT)

no denying the greatness of lara,kallis and ponting,but what lends immortality to tendulkar is the country wherefrom he has come or to be more precise the cricketing culture he has grown up it australia,south africa or the carrebean,all boast of bouncy pitches and most of the batsmen produced by these countries are adept at playing fast bowling with ease.such skill coming naturally to them.but what about india?such is the condition of pitches that except kapil no quality fast bowler has emerged over here in recent times. then imagine an indian player scoring 118 at the furious waca when still a teenager,or for that matter amassing loads of runs against the best of bowlers on bouncy and fast pitches.that too shouldering the burden of expectations of a billion people. this is pure genius ROB ,this is pure genius out of scarcity.

Posted by I-Mac on (March 7, 2012, 15:06 GMT)

I really do fail to see hwy there is ever a debate over Kallis' greatness. When all is said and done he is the best batsman of all time and cetrainly the best of those in question. Batsman alone, not because of his all-round abilities. The numbers, the conditions in which he has played and the opposition he has played against allow him to stand over his peers. In my opinion the ranking is 1) Kallis, 2) Lara, 3) Punter... then take your pick from Sangakara, Jayawardene and Tendulkar. Now for the inevitable backlash from the Indian suporters!

Posted by   on (March 7, 2012, 14:55 GMT)

Also, Mcgrath, Warne and Donald all claim that Tendulkar is the best they have ever bowled to. As Peter Roebuck has said, ' More than any other batsman, even Brian Lara, Tendulkar's batting has provoked gasps of admiration.' If you had to bet on one player out of these to succeed in any era, it would have to be Tendulkar. Also Lara, for all his undoubted genius and magical strokeplay, never was really assured against high pace on helpful pitches. He simply moved around too much in the crease. Tendulkar, by contrast, always stands still, plays late and is precise and assured in his movements, which makes him a far better player of fast bowling.

Posted by Pablo123 on (March 7, 2012, 14:45 GMT)

I can't image a more perfect cricketer than Jaques Kallis.

Posted by   on (March 7, 2012, 14:41 GMT)

So basically what you're implying is that Tendulkar is 4th best. And you are 100% correct.......actually maybe only 5th best after Dravid too.

Posted by   on (March 7, 2012, 14:41 GMT)

All of them great players, and Dravid should have been included as well. There is no doubt that the first name on the team sheet would be Kallis due to his all-round ability. However, purely as a batsman, you cannot look beyond Tendulkar. Great stats? Check. Ability to destroy bowling attacks? Check. Great technique, balance total comfort against spin and pace, ability to play all the shots, and then some more? All check. Played in a weak team for the first half of his career, in the toughest decade statistically for batting (the 90's). Plus he is by far the best ODI batsman among the quartet.

Posted by   on (March 7, 2012, 14:39 GMT)

So basically what you're implying is Tendulkar is only 4th best. And you're 100% correct.

Posted by   on (March 7, 2012, 14:39 GMT)

So basically what you're implying is Tendulkar is only 4th best. And you're 100% correct.

Posted by AndyMack on (March 7, 2012, 14:10 GMT)

HANG ON THOUGH - surely it could be a quintet - Chris Martin!!!!!

Posted by Bradshaw28 on (March 7, 2012, 13:37 GMT)

1. The greatest there is/was Kallis-250+ wicket and 12 000+ runs the greatest ensuring there is a balance between the two. The man who is very selective when batting. If a ball is 2 b left alone, to be blocked, or to be hit he is your man. Greatest cricketer and UCBSA honours him month end. 2.Ricky Ponting-greatest captain of all time and batsmen. Memorable innings was in ashes where he scored a century in 4th innings of the match and never looked back until a match was called off as a draw he was on 159*(If memory serves me well) 3.Rahul Dravid-Great test hero he stood alone in England tour 2011 when no 1 came to the party, has a record of less number of 0s. 4.Tendulkar-Marathon career and he gave more to cricket 5. Lara-took on all attacks but loved England so dear(375* and 400*). These are the talent we got to see before the Gibbs, Sehwag, Gayle took over test Cricket.

Posted by Busie1979 on (March 7, 2012, 13:23 GMT)

One more thing - for all those who say Kallis isn't flamboyant enough, I would take him over the others on a dodgy pitch any day.

Posted by   on (March 7, 2012, 13:10 GMT)

I just can't understand the running down of the Indian greats as flat track bullies!!If it was that easy to score runs on Indian pitches why havent the other 'Greats' been unsuccessful there? The fact is that other batsmen have struggled equally, if not more, on Indian pitches as much as the Indians on tours abroad.

Posted by   on (March 7, 2012, 13:09 GMT)

Its simple you look at a players record against better teams. No doubt, Sachin comes our on top. He has the best record against AUS and SL from KALLIS, LARA. Let's not forget AUS had the likes of Warne, McGrath, Gillespie, LEE, etc. one of the best attacks in the world. And SL had Vaas and Murali. Kallis record against AUS, is very dismal. Lara played great against one team, England, against all other he was very disappointed. Tendulkar has performed against every single team. He's the greatest. I rest my case. Please people do your research first, and check who has scored what against which countries. Just 'cause I score against Bermuda does not make me a great batsmen. LOL

Posted by   on (March 7, 2012, 13:02 GMT)

Mr.Steen and Mr.Chappell, What you both don't understand stand is the pressure of a more than a billion people expecting you to score century in every match. If Ponting, Lara, or Kallis were from India their career would've been done by now. How much pressure does Ponting faces maybe 25 million, or Kallis or even Lara.

Posted by 125hag on (March 7, 2012, 13:00 GMT)

amazingly brilliant king kallis if only any of the other 3 had taken 500 odd international wickets!

Posted by Bollo on (March 7, 2012, 12:56 GMT)

@TATTUs, yes Ponting`s record from 2002-2006 was phenomenal, but to suggest that his standing in the game rests on these years alone and `nothing more` is completely untrue; 1995 (ave. 84), 1997 (ave.50), 1999 (ave.63), 2000 (ave.64), 2008 (ave.47), 2012 (ave.141). If we also take into account his captaincy record, and reputation as the greatest all-round fielder of this generation, he clearly deserves mention alongside the likes of Lara and Tendulkar.

Posted by AshSA7 on (March 7, 2012, 12:54 GMT)

Great article. It's extremely difficult to draw a comparison between all these names, they are exceptional as they have proved over many years with their ability & stats. However, an important point is Kallis and Ponting have scored most of their runs on pitches that don't assist batsmen the way they do for Sachin & Lara to some extent. Sachin & Dravid are the ones in the Indian team who have been able to do far better than anyone on tours,but they have scored most of their runs in better conditions for batsmen. Due to this i am inclined that Kallis and Ponting have a slight edge. Kallis also brings into the fray his bowling capabilities which no one else on this list has. Ever since 2000 Kallis has scored more centuries than Sachin & Ponting - he is closest to Tendulkar at the moment & there is no doubt in my mind he can surpass his figure if he plays the same amount of matches played by Sachin. Apart from lara all are still playing so it's going to be an interesting finish....

Posted by   on (March 7, 2012, 12:25 GMT)


Posted by Arunvilla on (March 7, 2012, 11:46 GMT)

Sachin and lara faced the toughest and scored against them not punter who scored against mediocre attacks so in my view lara and sachin are the most dominant batsman.dravid and kallis comes in the next categories and sangakkara,mahela comes in next

Posted by TheBengalTiger on (March 7, 2012, 11:21 GMT)

Kiwi Rocker- a great way to judge the greatness of a batsman is the envy he inspires in others. Your riddiculous post is a perfect exmaple of this. what kind of a riddiculous statistic is 'runs against Australia when McGrath was playing'? You cant choose who you play against! His record in Australai is fantastic. I've got to say, its people like you that are living proof of Tendulkars greatness

Posted by   on (March 7, 2012, 11:11 GMT)

Why it should be only a quartet Rob? How can you leave out Dravid ? His numbers are equally staggering and he has won more matches for India than Tendulkar. He has achieved phenomenonal numbers and yet remained a bridesmaid. To me he is the pillar of the Indian batting and every piece of his batting is part of the main. He never wasted his wicket for personal gratification and Kallis rightly said that Dravid if he were to be born in another country, he would have been more famous than Tendulkar. He is technically sounder than all those people whom you have compared.

Posted by spixel on (March 7, 2012, 11:03 GMT)

Just like Lara, Sachin & Ponting, this article would always be counted amongst the best articles written on cricinfo :).

Posted by HatsforBats on (March 7, 2012, 10:52 GMT)

Kallis does not even come close to the other three. Kallis has an immaculate defense, he will occupy the crease, tough out the difficult periods and score runs as a consequence. But he is not able to dominate sessions and doesn't take the game away from the opposition. His SR of 45 (comparatively Lara & Ponting are about 60!) is positively pedestrian. Even as a bowler his SR is near 70! He is a marvelous performer, but if you were to ask cricinfo pundits to pick a world XI I don't think many of them would place Kallis in the top 5.

Posted by ProfJ on (March 7, 2012, 10:45 GMT)

Nice article, Rob. You missed a really interesting comparison: how many current Test wicketkeepers have taken more catches than Kallis?

Posted by sandy_bangalore on (March 7, 2012, 10:38 GMT)

Actually I am amused that this matter even needs a debate. Kallis is the greatest cricketer ever, and as per me and several of my cricket loving friends, this is how he stands up against the other greats of this era: 1) vs Lara: Great player and the best player of spin ever, but has been opened by a few times by right arm outswing bowlers. Kallis has no such weakness 2) vs Tendulkar: Fast bowlers have troubled him in the last few years(after turning 30). But Kallis is more or less same age, but still handles pace and spin with aplomb 3) vs Ponting: Kallis plays spin better, and ponting scratches often for his first 20 runs. Kallis in control from word go 4) Inzy, Jayawardena: Not a great record outside Asia 5) Sangakkara: Not a great record in England

Posted by Simoc on (March 7, 2012, 10:33 GMT)

i agree with Theena. Lara and Akram were the very best I have seen as well with real style. The others are great batsmen but mostly accumulators of runs.

Posted by Arun_N on (March 7, 2012, 10:11 GMT)

Rob,You probably gave the answer yourself. All greats have that one or two great,out of the world innings which people remember for ages like that 153* of Lara or the 281 of VVS or the 140 of Ricky you mentioned. Kallis lacks that defining innings which will propel him to greatness.

Posted by   on (March 7, 2012, 9:35 GMT)

@all praising Sachin and degrading Kallis. First go and chk Sachin records before complaining abt King Kallis. Sachin averages 42 against SA in test, 35 in ODIs, 25 at a SR of 65 against SA in SA after 22 matches. So, as per ur arguement, if Aus had best bowling line-up and Kallis failed to deliver against them, then if Sachin cant score against a mediocre SA attack, y call him grt!!! Sachin is one of the most over-rated batsman of all times!!! Sachin ODI ave against Aus in Aus is mere 30 at a SR of 70 that too in 2008 aftr retirement of McGrath and Warne. So, do u call this grtness!!! Travel to Aus and struggle against them!!! Come back to Indian flat pitches and murder those Aus quicks!!! Kallis never enjoyed benefits like this. Had to play Aus back in SA seaming conditions.

Posted by   on (March 7, 2012, 9:10 GMT)

We don't have to argue about who's "best". They were all fantastic. What this article asserts is that Kallis definitely has earned his membership to the elite club of the top batsmen of the last 30 years, along with Tendulkar, Lara, Ponting.

He's been a monumental player for South Africa, his is one of the most valuable wickets in the world.

The superlative fielding and his bowling ability are just bonuses on top of his amazing batting record.

Posted by   on (March 7, 2012, 8:50 GMT)

probably the best article i've ever read on cricinfo!! wonderful!!

Posted by KiwiRocker- on (March 7, 2012, 8:45 GMT)

I am tired of people calling a mortal human as God and someone with an unknown IQ as Genius. Here is some hard cold facts about the most over rated batsman of world Tendulkar: In tests against Australia; Sachin averages a modest 36.77 against Australia when McGrath played. In test against SA; Sachin averages a pathetic 32 against South Africa whenever Allan Donald has played.Tendulkar was a failure against Wasim and Waqar and hardly played against them. He anyway averaged 32 runs against them. Interestingly he still averages around 40 against Pakistan. Against the 3 greatest fast bowlers of his era, whom he faced in more than one Test series, McGrath, Donald and Akram, Sachin has scored 1719 Test runs at a modest average of 34.3 (compared to his career average of 56). This is the very definition of being over-rated. You can not become best by scoring against Shane Warne. You need to score against the best to become the best. Just like Sir Viv Richards did! Tendulkar has won nothing!

Posted by KiwiRocker- on (March 7, 2012, 8:35 GMT)

I agree with Rob in most parts however there are number of facts that need to be corrected. I have been a lone voice on this forum for many years( since cricinfo started actually) fighting that J Kallis is the BEST all round cricketer of all time along with sobers and Imran Khan. J Kalli has 500 odd hunderd wickets and 100+ catches against his name that Tendulya, Lara and Ponting do not have. However, I think it is very unfair that two batsmen are not acknowledged by the media that seems to have made their own greats. Those two batsmen were Rahul Dravid and Inzemam Ul Haq. Key difference between these two and the discussed trio is that they actually won matches.Inzemam's 15 centuries resulted in Pak wins ( agreed that bowling played part) and Dravid won for India. Tendulkar is an over rated batsman who averages in 30's in 4th innings of a test match. Furthermore, Tendulkar hardly faced(6-7tests only) two best bowlers of his era( Wasim and Waqar) as he vocally opposed India Vs Pak ties!

Posted by   on (March 7, 2012, 8:24 GMT)

The reason Ponting, Sachin & Lara are counted above Kallis is because of thr ability to demolish attacks, if consistency and determination was the sole factor than Kallis & Dravid might come above the famous trio but both of them lacked the ability to be aggressive and destroy the careers of bowlers the way Ponting, Sachin & Lara can.

Posted by Nuxxy on (March 7, 2012, 8:06 GMT)

The thing people miss about Kallis is that the majority of his games have been played in South Africa - were there is no triple scored and only 15 doubles. And when he has played overseas, he has played for a team with a great attack, so there has never been need for him to score double and triple hundreds. Look at his second innings stats are you really start to see his value - average of 58+.

Posted by Truemans_Ghost on (March 7, 2012, 7:57 GMT)

Chappell "erudite"? Are you sure you chose the right word there?

Posted by   on (March 7, 2012, 7:47 GMT)

To echo Shane Warne: Lara <day light> Tendulkar, Ponting <chasm> Kallis, Dravid Sangakkara, Inzamam. No disrespect to any of the guys coming below the trinity of Lara, Sachin and Ponting, but stats only tell you so much. Even at their best, none of the others could dominate attacks the way the Lara, Sachin and Ponting could. Lara will always be my personal pick because, and I quote Rahul Batcharya here, watching him bat and Wasim Akram bowl is the greatest pleasure I've ever derived out of cricket. If those two alone played the game I'd throw any other distraction out of the window and choose cricket over anything else life has to offer.

Posted by ravi.m on (March 7, 2012, 7:32 GMT)

If you exclude Zim & BD,

Tendulkar 13732 @ 52.6 (43 100s) Ponting 12650 @ 52.7 (39 100s) Lara 11558 @ 52.5 (32 100s) Kallis 11264 @ 54.1 (37 100s)

I think pre-Murali's-16-fer-at-the-Oval-Srilanka is probably classed with Zim / BD! Too complicated to try it on statsguru.

Posted by ravi.m on (March 7, 2012, 7:24 GMT)

You have missed 3 important points - strictly talking about Tests.

Average of under 40 against Australia - the best team of his generation.

Average of under 30 IN England - the toughest conditions against pace bowlers for visiting teams

Never scored a 100 when Muralitharan played at home or away!

So, he struggled against the spin wizard, best team and then in tough conditions.

Posted by Gupta.Ankur on (March 7, 2012, 7:22 GMT)

Tendulkar is by far the greatest to have played and Dravid is my man for "Matter of life or death".

This article is carefully written to highlight on lows of Tendulkar......what a biased piece.

Posted by Beazle on (March 7, 2012, 7:11 GMT)

Yes- Sehwag should also be included as he has changed more games than Ponting, Tendulkar and Kallis combined !

But the author is essentially correct about Lara- the most thrilling and exciting of batsmen since Viv Richards.

Posted by zenboomerang on (March 7, 2012, 6:52 GMT)

@Rob Steen... I think Chappelli & yourself both miss a few points... Lara, SRT, Punter have been "made" by the media to be batting greats while Jacques already knows that the top marker is Bradman & none have gotten anywhere near him... Your top 3 have not been proven to be good captains (let alone great ones) which must demote their overall standings... Kallis is in a league of his own - no batsman or bowler can be compared to the brilliance of Kallis's achievements in all aspects of the game... He stands alone & will remain there like Bradman until another great freak of nature emerges from the sea of humanity...

Posted by   on (March 7, 2012, 6:47 GMT)

Great article Rob, people do tend to forget Lara because he retired in 2007 but even if you pick up the stats, he was the fastest to get 11000 runs in test cricket, his average took a beating because he has less number of notouts than any of the top scorers.

Posted by Greg.of.Qld on (March 7, 2012, 6:42 GMT)

Kallis is the greatest cricketer that ever lived, it simple stats he is the best by a mile. Ponting is the best modern day batsman, he did it as a captain which must degrade from your performance somewhat. He also has 105 test wins (this will take some beating and he is not finished), which means he was about winning, not averages. Lara had big scores in draws he was after personal milestones and frankly England were disgusting the day he got his 400, they may have well bowled underarm.. Tendullkar only has 25 Test wins, his centuries were pointless really. Ponting is the greatest one day cricketer that ever lived, 30 odd games undefeated in world cups is a crazy record and will also take some beating. 3 world cups will also take some beating.

Posted by Shan156 on (March 7, 2012, 6:36 GMT)

Yes, Kallis has better batting/bowling average in tests than Tendulkar but averages aren't everything. Almost every cricket fan would admit that Tendulkar is the best, most complete batsman of the modern era, perhaps all-time. We have, time and again, heard that Tendulkar may be the better batsman but Kallis is the complete cricketer since he can also bowl. But, wait a minute, Tendulkar can bowl off-breaks, leg-breaks and medium pace. He can field at slip or mid-on or cover. He has captained India well and has even won a series against SA even when India were a mediocre side (although SA consigned India to one of their very few home series defeats in their next trip that led to Sachin giving up captaincy). Indian captains have often erred by not throwing the ball to Sachin more often. Of course, his age may be a factor. Tendulkar is not far behind Kallis when talking about the "complete cricketer".

Posted by   on (March 7, 2012, 6:33 GMT)

Kallis isnt a dominant batsmen his career strike rate is only 45 whilst Lara Tendulkar and ponting all strike at 60 these 3 are game defining players who take on the opposition while Kallis just grinds. This is why he wont be considered an all time legend as a batsmen, as an all rounder he is defiantly right alongside sobers for his numbers but the fact remains his scoring rate is far too pedestrian to be considered top line

Posted by Digimont on (March 7, 2012, 6:30 GMT)

Kallis averages only 39 with the bat against Australia and 38 with the ball (combined home and away). That makes him a handy allrounder, nothing more. His figures are highly inflated playing against lesser sides. Personally, he isn't fit to be named anywhere near the other three. Not even in my top 10 as a batsman.

Posted by jonesy2 on (March 7, 2012, 6:29 GMT)

blah blah blah, everyones the best, my favourites the best blah blah blah, who cares, what a pointless exercise. for the record, its about winning, hence ponting langer clarke martyn hayden and hussey are the best batsmen of the this century

Posted by Nadeem1976 on (March 7, 2012, 6:27 GMT)

First of all Ian Chappel has no qualifications to tell us who are top 3 great batsmen of this generation. We fan all know who is who and who is not. Kallis average is better than Sachin , Lara, Ponting and he plays in fast pitches in SA which is a plus. I think if you really talk about greatness then we should consider all 7 great batsmen of last generation. Sachin, Ponting, Kallis, Lara, Inzimam , Dravid and Mahela. Sangakara and Sehwag in next three years will reach there. These all players are legends and must be hall of fame in future. In this group no body is #1 and all are legends.

Posted by k.mithilesh on (March 7, 2012, 6:02 GMT)

Kallis never played a memorable innings which even comes close to that of Lara's. He is a statistician dreams and romantics boredom. Clerk-like efficient not with panache of an artist...

Posted by SouthPaw on (March 7, 2012, 5:45 GMT)

Spot on Rob - Kallis is the most prolific contemporary cricketer, unfortunately he enjoys no fan base comprising cricketer-turned commentators or I-know-more-about-cricket-even-though-I-haven't-played-cricket-media-persons.

His record in all formats of the game, plus his all round abilities, not just with bat and ball, but fielding too, truly makes him the best cricketer by far. Unfortunately, he is not flamboyant, much like another great cricketer Rahul Dravid and both seem confined to being the perennial bridesmaid.

Thanks for your effort to try & turn the spotlight on Kallis as well!

Posted by   on (March 7, 2012, 5:29 GMT)

What about Mahela? An awesome cricketer and a captain ! People tend to forget him because of the low profile he lives !

Posted by CricFan78 on (March 7, 2012, 5:29 GMT)

Its ridiculous to keep Ponting in same sentence as Lara and Sachin. We can discuss when he makes an attacking century on a spinning track.

Posted by   on (March 7, 2012, 5:26 GMT)

Where is Inzamam ul Haq. He is 2nd to Bradman in terms of average in won test matches (qualification:1200 runs). When he scored beyond 30, whole team average shooted by 10

Posted by   on (March 7, 2012, 5:15 GMT)

Well said Rob Steen. Kallis not only has a superior batting average to the other 3, he is actually a great bowler as well. Best all-rounder since Sobers. A true legend.

Posted by   on (March 7, 2012, 5:13 GMT)

Kallis is definitely the best cricketer the world has ever seen taking up the mantle from Sobers...and I say cricketer not just batsman, bowler or fielder..

Posted by   on (March 7, 2012, 4:53 GMT)

True Rob Steen, Kallis deserves more respect and his feats are no mean

Posted by internationalist on (March 7, 2012, 4:44 GMT)

Rob, you seem to have missed Ian Chappell's point. He analysed "the three most dominant batsmen of the era". Kallis is a great batsman, but not dominant. If he was, it would not have taken him until his 143rd Test to score his first Test double-century. As Cricinfo's profile of him once read, for Kallis runs are "but an accidental by-product of crease occupation". If another modern batsman was to be included in Chappell's "dominance" debate, it would be Virender Sehwag rather than Kallis.

Posted by doc9chakri on (March 7, 2012, 4:23 GMT)

I totally agree with you sir.In fact Kallis is the best of all by miles.LONG LIVE KING KALLIS!!!!

Posted by   on (March 7, 2012, 4:06 GMT)

my favourite cricketer since his debut..hats off to JHK

Posted by   on (March 7, 2012, 3:42 GMT)

absolutely spot on rob....... Aesthetic standard-bearer: Tendulkar. Sensual adventurer: Lara. Momentum-shifter: Ponting. Matter of life or death-er: Kallis....this is one of the best articles i have read here....kallis never gets his due share just because he is a modest man and media doesn't create much hype about him.... a true warrior.......people called him slow...yes he was...but in the best interest of his team because southafrican batting lineup wasn't that reliable at that time and mostly when kallis got out it would be gameover...but now when ab,amla have become consistent,kallis has shown us the other side of the picture...he may not be the best batsman but truly the most valuable cricketer ever....he is an old fashioned rolls rice with an upgraded engine...go kallis go.....u r the best

Posted by Graeme_Pollock on (March 7, 2012, 3:34 GMT)

Good article. The one thing against Tendulkar and Lara is that their own attack was often so weak that the opposition was able to pile on a mountain of runs before they got their turn to bat. What this meant was that they almost always had to confront attacking fields with plenty of close-in catchers and bowlers who had their tails up, no to mention the sheer pressure of facing a large total.

Posted by TATTUs on (March 7, 2012, 3:28 GMT)

I dont think Kallis comes in that league even though he has the stats. Ponting doesnt come anywhere near the first two as well. Between Lara and Tendulkar you can chose anyone as it doesnt matter.

And what is 'momentum shifter' for Ponting? Tendulkar and Lara could easily do that way better than Ponting. Watch then pre 2003! Ponting had just 5 great years 02-06 and nothing more.

Posted by mak102480 on (March 7, 2012, 3:23 GMT)

Don't underestimate the pressure on Tendulkar to perform for a billion fans. A mere mortal would have succumbed a long time ago...he's carried that pressure for 22+ years. For me, it is Tendulkar, Lara, Ponting, and then Kallis.

Posted by jordan_nofx on (March 7, 2012, 3:00 GMT)

Agree completely. I have this argument often and if I wanted someone batting for my life it would be Kallis ( and ponting is my favourites player). Can play defensively and aggressively in all formats in all conditions against pace and spin.. One thing though, it was not twin centuries he got after the pair but a double century V Sri Lanka

The twin tons he got v India a few years back when nobody could play on the pitch including coming out injured in the second innings is the stuff of legend.

Posted by Dashgar on (March 7, 2012, 2:54 GMT)

You can have you favourites but you could never score one of these players as 'better' than any of the others. They are all legends of the game and they will be remembered as such.

Posted by 9-Monkeys on (March 7, 2012, 2:46 GMT)

Great article and I can't argue with the closing sentiment. They are four wonderful batsmen who deserve high and equal praise.

Posted by BaggyGreen2 on (March 7, 2012, 2:33 GMT)

Yes i agree Rob, should be a quartet of batsmen with Kallis. That's why in the choice of the player of the decade was Ponting 2nd place Kallis. My choice out of the four batsmen would be Ponting, due to his captancy and batsmanship, then Kallis 2, allrounder ability, then...... who cares.

Posted by criclover112 on (March 7, 2012, 2:01 GMT)

Ponting and Lara >>>>> Kallis and tendulkar

Posted by Hyderabadi_Nawab on (March 7, 2012, 1:50 GMT)

To me Jacques Kallis is the best "cricketer" since Gary Sobers, a cricketer is one who plays cricket the way it should be played and when it should be played. He bats bowls and fields in Tests ODIs and T20s and does it so well - what more could be proof of an all-round ability - truly the greatest allrounder of our times and arguably the best of all time. A legend!

Comments have now been closed for this article

Email Feedback Print
Rob SteenClose
Rob Steen Rob Steen is a sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton, whose books include biographies of Desmond Haynes and David Gower (Cricket Society Literary Award winner) and 500-1 - The Miracle of Headingley '81. His investigation for the Wisden Cricketer, "Whatever Happened to the Black Cricketer?", won the UK section of the 2005 EU Journalism Award "For diversity, against discrimination"

    Last ball, last wicket, and Northants' parched spell

Ask Steven: Also, Vijay Manjrekar's nickname, Abid Ali's no-ball, oldest double-centurions, and this decade's leading players

    'I ensured there was no regionalism in selection'

Couch Talk: Former India batsman Chandu Borde reflects on his career as a player, mentor, manager and selector

Lehmann enters uncharted territory

Daniel Brettig: The Pakistan Tests provide the first significant juncture of his new phase as Australia's established coach

    The man who pulled New Zealand from the precipice

Brendon McCullum's runs and leadership have rescued New Zealand cricket from its lowest ebb. By Andrew Alderson

Cricket: complex, unknowable cricket

Jon Hotten: We, as players and spectators, are finite, but cricket, utterly brilliant in its design, is not

News | Features Last 7 days

How India weeds out its suspect actions

The BCCI set up a three-man committee to tackle the problem of chucking at age-group and domestic cricket, and it has produced significant results in five years

The insecure kid who never grew up

Kevin Pietersen missed the point of life in the second half of his career, failed to show maturity, and has regressed to being the bitter youngster who left Natal years ago

India's other keeper stumped again

Throughout his career, Wriddhiman Saha has suffered from being in the same generation as MS Dhoni. However, those close to the player believe that Saha has never been one to take rejection personally

A rock, a hard place and the WICB

The board's latest standoff with its players has had embarrassing consequences internationally, so any resolution now needs to be approached thoughtfully

Kohli back to old habits

Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala

News | Features Last 7 days