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Jacques Kallis' English challenge

His Test average in England is 29.30, which is 27.48 lower than his career average. Can he make amends this time?

S Rajesh

July 13, 2012

Comments: 32 | Text size: A | A

Jacques Kallis plays the pull, South Africa v India, 3rd Test, Cape Town, 1st day, January 2, 2011
Jacques Kallis scored a century and a half-century in his first three Test innings in England, but since then he has struggled for runs © AFP
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By all accounts, Jacques Kallis' stats as a Test batsman are spectacular: he averages 56.78 over a period of 152 Tests, with 42 hundreds - second-best to only Sachin Tendulkar's 51 centuries. He has scored a Test century versus every opposition he has played against, and in every country except Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

However, every modern batsman has at least one Achilles heel (though for Tendulkar, it isn't as glaring as for other batsmen - he averages at least 40 in every country, and more than 40 against every opposition; perhaps it's his fourth-innings stats - only three centuries in 56 innings). Ricky Ponting averages 26.48 in 14 Tests in India; Brian Lara has a surprisingly low average of 34.55 in 17 Tests against India, and 36.90 in seven Tests in New Zealand; Inzamam-ul-Haq struggled against Australia (31.40 in 14 Tests) and South Africa (32.27 in 13), unarguably the two best bowling attacks when he played.

For Kallis, the problem has been, it would seem from his stats, tackling conditions in England: in 12 Tests there, he averages 29.30, with a solitary century in 20 innings. Admittedly that's a surprising stat, given Kallis' technical proficiency at the crease. The seam and swing in England usually demand a tight technique, but you'd expect Kallis to pass that examination - he has the most watertight technique among current batsmen, and a superb temperament to go with it. However, for some reason, he has struggled to be at his best in England. He has played three Test series there, and ironically he was at his best in the first, in 1998, when he was far from the accomplished accumulator he is today. In fact, of his four 50-plus scores in Tests in England, two were achieved in his first three innings there, including his maiden century in the country, which was only the second of his Test career. Since then, his performances in England have been terribly disappointing: 393 runs in 17 innings at an average of 23.11, with two fifties, and a highest of 66.

Against the same opposition in home conditions, though, Kallis has excellent stats - 1293 runs in 16 Tests at 53.87, with six centuries and five fifties. They're reminiscent of Ponting's numbers against India, though the home-and-away contrast for Ponting is even higher: he averaged 86.04 against them in 15 Tests at home, and 26.48 in 14 matches in India.

England have also been Kallis' toughest ODI opponent. He averages only 31.93 in 38 matches against them, compared to a career ODI average of 45.26. Against them in England, that average drops further, to 30.25.

Jacques Kallis in Tests, in England and elsewhere
  Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
In England 12 586 29.30 1/ 3
Outside England 140 11,793 59.56 41/ 52
v England at home 16 1293 53.87 6/ 5

Kallis' Test average of 29.30 in England is among the lowest for overseas batsmen who have batted in the top five in the line-up, and played at least ten Tests there since 1960. The two batsmen with lower averages during this period are Pakistan's opener Mudassar Nazar (career average 38.09) and West Indies' Alvin Kallicharran (career average 44.43). Doug Walters was another who struggled with the swing in England: he averaged 48.26 over a 76-Test career, but in England his average dropped to less than 30. In 21 Test innings in England when he batted in the top five, his average was 29.85; his overall average in England was even lower - 25.68, with a highest of 88 in 30 innings. Among those who've played in the last decade, the two prominent names are Matthew Hayden and Mahela Jayawardene - both average less than 35 in England despite having career averages of more than 50.

Lowest averages for overseas batsmen in the top five in England since 1960 (Qual: 10 Tests)
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Mudassar Nazar 10 402 28.71 1/ 2
Alvin Kallicharran 11 465 29.06 0/ 3
Jacques Kallis 12 586 29.30 1/ 3
Doug Walters 12 597 29.85 0/ 5
Graeme Wood 12 690 31.36 2/ 2
Bruce Edgar 10 575 31.94 0/ 6
Carl Hooper 14 620 32.63 1/ 4
Mahela Jayawardene 10 614 34.11 2/ 2
Michael Slater 10 586 34.47 1/ 3
Matthew Hayden 10 552 34.50 1/ 1

In terms of difference between a batsman's overall average and his average in England, Kallis' 27.48 is the highest among all batsmen who've played at least six Tests in England. Close on his heels is another all-time great, Kumar Sangakkara, who also has a technically sound game. He averages 30.59 in England, and more than 56 over his entire career. Among current players, there are two more in the list below: Virender Sehwag's six Tests have fetched 278 runs at 27.80, which is well below his career average of 50.80. And then there's Michael Hussey, another well-equipped batsman technically who you'd expect to have a much better record in England: in seven Tests there (including two against Pakistan) he averages 31.36, well below his career average of 50.07.

There are some other old-timers as well, including two of the three Ws from the West Indies. Everton Weekes had a career average of 58.61, but in 16 innings in England, he managed only 33.31, including ducks in three of his last four innings there. Clyde Walcott averaged 56.68 over his 44-Test career, but in 16 innings in England, he touched 40 just twice.

Superb elsewhere, poor in England (Qual: 6 Tests in Eng)
Batsman Overall Tests Average Tests in Eng Average Diff in ave
Jacques Kallis 152 56.78 12 29.30 27.48
Kumar Sangakkara 110 56.73 9 30.59 26.14
Everton Weekes 48 58.62 9 33.31 24.11
Polly Umrigar 59 42.22 8 18.20 24.02
Virender Sehwag 96 50.80 6 27.80 23.00
Clyde Walcott 44 56.69 9 34.00 22.69
Doug Walters 74 48.26 18 25.69 22.57
Herbie Collins 19 45.07 6 23.00 22.07
Aubrey Faulkner 25 40.79 10 20.47 20.32
Chandu Borde 55 35.59 7 16.67 18.92
Pankaj Roy 43 32.56 9 13.71 18.85
Michael Hussey 73 50.07 7 31.36 18.71

Kallis' stats in England are also surprising given that most of his team-mates have done pretty well here. Among the other batsmen in this South African squad who've played Tests in England before, only Jacques Rudolph has a lower average. Graeme Smith has been outstanding, with 1083 runs at 72.20, including two double-hundreds in his first three Test innings in England. In fact, Smith scored more runs in those three innings (277, 85, and 259) than Kallis has in his 20 Test innings in England. If Smith has another good series, he'll take over from Bruce Mitchell as the leading South African run scorer in Tests in England.

Current South African batsmen in England
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Graeme Smith 9 1083 72.20 4/ 1
AB de Villiers 4 384 64.00 1/ 1
Hashim Amla 4 275 45.83 1/ 1
Jacques Kallis 12 586 29.30 1/ 3
Jacques Rudolph 5 132 14.67 0/ 1

Kallis will have an opportunity to improve his stats in England over the next few weeks, but he'll be up against a top-class bowling line-up. Among them will be James Anderson, who has dismissed Kallis six times in 12 Tests; the only bowler who has dismissed him more often is Shane Warne - seven times in 18 matches. (Click here for the list of bowlers who've dismissed Kallis most often in Tests.)

Of the six times that Anderson has nailed Kallis, four have been in England, at an average Kallis won't be proud of. The next few weeks will give him an opportunity to rectify this stat as well.

Kallis v Anderson in Tests
  Runs Balls Dismissals Average
In England 65 176 4 16.25
In South Africa 80 161 2 40.00
Overall 145 337 6 24.16

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

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Posted by harshthakor on (July 15, 2012, 4:07 GMT)

This is the ultimate test for Kallis to prove himself as a true great batsman in any conditions and to also be a match-winner Kallis reminds me of Doug Walters,who similarly failed in England.The seaming conditions have often been the undoing of great players and this why England is the ultimate test for scoring runs.Gary Sober,Sachin Tendulkar,Viv Richards,Greg Chappell and Sunil Gavaskar gave some of their best batting in England.Coping with the moving ball is a real challenge.

The great Garfield Sobers was champion in England and this should inspire Kallis who has so far failed in England.Kallis is Sober's greatest challenger statistically.If Kallis's batting inspires a South African win then he may well challenge Sir Garfied Sobers!

Posted by   on (July 14, 2012, 19:25 GMT)

Kallis will prevail in this series. Expecting around 250 runs and 10+ wickets from him in this series.

Posted by TheBengalTiger on (July 14, 2012, 17:31 GMT)

Tendulkars stats are phenomenal. Averaging 40 in every country? Puts the debate of whose the greaest cricketer to bed.

Posted by Michaelsy on (July 14, 2012, 15:19 GMT)

Kallis will mesmerize the english bowling.remember things change.thumbs up for SA n oh thumbs down the drain for england

Posted by warneneverchuck on (July 14, 2012, 13:52 GMT)

@landl. I know it is highly unlikely but if anyone could do this it's only Kallis

Posted by hamwil80 on (July 14, 2012, 10:10 GMT)

Well pointed out by several people that Kallis has an excellent bowling record in England. The advantage of being an allrounder. I seem to recall that he may have even been the top or close to the top wicket taker on either side in the 2008 series, although I cannot find the match records for this. His bowling form has been pretty strong recently (his was bowling well into the 140's against Sri Lanka), don't be surprised if he takes a lot of wickets again, once the England batsmen have seen off Steyn and co. Regarding the poor batting performances, don't forget the personal loss which Kallis suffered in the 2003 series, which clearly would have affected his game. 2008, regardless of where he played, was a poor year for his batting. Unfortunately, when he did finally get in, at Edgebaston, Flintoff, rather unsportingly, exploited poor sighting issues by bowling full tosses at right handers (can't imagine a Saffer ever doing the same, can you? ).

Posted by naveed_allam on (July 14, 2012, 6:14 GMT)

Pakistan's Batsmen have done pretty well in england. Salim Malik (66.50), Ijaz Ahmed (54.88), Mohammad yousuf(54.33), Younas Khan (52.22), Amir Sohail (49), Javed Miandad (46.61), Inzi (42.50), Saeed Anwar (42.30).

Posted by zxaar on (July 14, 2012, 5:52 GMT)

@Bollo i checked after that, last year start tendulkar had 5.76 inning per 100 and now down to 6.09. you are correct.

Posted by landl47 on (July 14, 2012, 4:38 GMT)

@rahulkkhh: I think it's safe to say that if Kallis does score 600 runs and take 20 wickets in a 3-match test series, SA will win the series. You'll forgive me if I suggest that's just a tad unlikely. The only player I can recall actually putting up those figures was the greatest all-rounder of all time, Sir Garfield Sobers, who scored over 700 runs at an average of 103 and took 20 wickets at an average of 27 against England in 1966 (he also took 10 catches and captained the side), but that was in a 5-match series. Kallis, fine player though he is, has never come anywhere close to those numbers and won't in this series.

Posted by Bollo on (July 14, 2012, 0:25 GMT)

@zxaar. Not that it`s really relevant to this conversation, but Kallis and Tendulkar have almost exactly the same number of innings per century - 6.1.

Posted by Kaze on (July 13, 2012, 22:01 GMT)

@clarky1958 It's also funny that he has not mentioned how many runs and 100s Sachin has against Bangladesh lol

Posted by BillyCC on (July 13, 2012, 21:59 GMT)

@Xolile, nice dig on Sobers but can't say I agree with you. Re Bradman, I think you will find he had health problems which came to a head in 1934. We don't know how much they affected his batting, but it would be safe to say they definitely did. As a result, most batsmen will take an average of 44 over a 30 month form slump.

Posted by warneneverchuck on (July 13, 2012, 20:32 GMT)

Kallis will be man of the series and score minimum 600 runs 20 wkts in this series and help SA win the series

Posted by zxaar on (July 13, 2012, 19:10 GMT)

@clarky1958 " Or you could mention that Tendulkar has played 36 more tests than Kallis so the hundreds scored per test is about the same. " -------------- nope, on innings per 100 kallis far worse than tendulkar. Check the numbers.

Posted by zxaar on (July 13, 2012, 19:08 GMT)

kallis has been not out 15% of his innings in tests that is why he has higher average than others. In england he is never been not-out and thus he has poor average there.

Posted by rayfanatics on (July 13, 2012, 14:58 GMT)

Very good article Rajesh. This is what makes this game so unpredictable and engrossing.

@Tigg, you have no idea. Some overseas batsmen average over 50 in England. Those are what you call high class. @clarky1958 - This is not a sachin-kallis comparison article. When you mention a stat, you always tend to mention the apex number to put things in perspective. Kallis hasn't done well here and that is fact.But there is no reason that he won't do well. He is a legend and will ultimately find his glory.

Posted by Noball_Specialist on (July 13, 2012, 14:37 GMT)

Great build up.

Posted by Tigg on (July 13, 2012, 13:08 GMT)

Another thing to remember is that if you can average in the 40s in England it's pretty impressive. Sporting pitches and good overhead conditions test all batsmen (it's one of the reasons why high class English batsmen typically have lower averages than some others).

Posted by jb633 on (July 13, 2012, 13:01 GMT)

I don't think the conditions are too dissimilar between the countries and I am sure Kallis has the armaoury to perform over here. I am pretty sure the stats will be coincidence rather than a mental block or technical deficinecy. I think Kallis has every opportunity to put these stats right. However as an English fan I hope the trend continues.

Posted by Highflyer_GP on (July 13, 2012, 12:16 GMT)

Lol some ambiguous lines in this article. "Of the six times that Anderson has nailed Kallis, four have been in England"

Posted by   on (July 13, 2012, 11:59 GMT)

No doubt this is glaring. But take this apart, he has been superb with almost 60 average in 160 tests. No one else including Sachin can match his consistency. Rahul has been superb in swinging English and NZ conditions and atleast here he outscores the other greats of the game. Mr Rajesh you have not mentioned about Dravid:s superb record here

Posted by teo. on (July 13, 2012, 11:43 GMT)

Don't criticise Kallis for his lack of Hundreds in Bangladesh. SA tend to rest him for those series (rightly so)... SA can beat Bangladesh without him, and have him fresh for tougher opponents. So, that stat is a tad unfair..... I mean, even Jason Gillespie has a 200 against Bangladesh... pffffff

Posted by clarky1958 on (July 13, 2012, 11:22 GMT)

"By all accounts, Jacques Kallis' stats as a Test batsman are spectacular: he averages 56.78 over a period of 152 Tests, with 42 hundreds - second-best to only Sachin Tendulkar's 51 centuries." S.Rajesh

This is a typical sub-continental-centric article. Why mention Tendulkar at all? If so, why not mention that Kallis has a test average of 56.78 (Tendulkar "second-best" with 55.58). Or you could mention that Tendulkar has played 36 more tests than Kallis so the hundreds scored per test is about the same.

Posted by BellCurve on (July 13, 2012, 10:54 GMT)

The 2nd best all-rounder of all time, Sir Garfield Sobers, played 7 Tests in New Zealand against very weak sides and only managed to score 151 runs @ 15.10 and take 9 wickets @38.88. Every player will have a hole in his stats when you start to slice and dice the numbers. Even the phenomenal Bradman had a bit of a slump during and after Bodyline. Between Feb-32 and Jul-34 (a 30 month period), Bradman played 8 Tests and scored 529 runs @ 44.08. His record in FC cricket was even worse during this period. This will forever raise questions about his ability against the fast rising ball.

Posted by Romanticstud on (July 13, 2012, 10:14 GMT)

Kallis has most probably the best technique of all current all round batsmen in the world today ... There are however a few blocks left unchecked 1-Test centuries in Sri-Lanka and Bangladesh 2-Better averages in England, Australia and Sri Lanka ... 3 - 300 Wickets 4 - 200 Catches 5- 50 centuries ... @landl47 has made a point about Kallis and his inconsistancy since 2010 ... but remember cricket is a game where under normal circumstances anything can happen ... Even Sir Donald Bradman got few ducks ... but he also got 300+ scores ... Imagine reading the headlines again "King Kallis" ... Remember too he has also his best bowling analysis in England with 6/54 and an average of only 27.51 ... and 13 catches in England ...

Posted by BellCurve on (July 13, 2012, 8:26 GMT)

Remember that Kallis is an all-rounder. We therefore should look at his contribution with both bat and ball. In 12 Tests in England, he scored 586 @ 29.30. He also took 35 wickets @ 27.51 - averaging almost 3 wickets per match. Those are exceptional figures for an all-rounder in foreign conditions against tough opposition. It is also worth considering that he played 5 Tests in 1998 when he was 22 years old and still developing, and 4 Tests in 2008 when he was in poor form.

Posted by   on (July 13, 2012, 7:51 GMT)

You are being terribly unfair to Graeme Wood. Despite playing in 59 tests his career average was 31.86 which only slightly higher than his average in England.

Posted by sash1803 on (July 13, 2012, 7:34 GMT)

When the going gets tough, the tough get going... Fair enough, Eng have a quality bowling attack, but Kallis is one of the greats of the game. Don't ever underestimate him, Behind you 100% Jacques!!!

Posted by 2929paul on (July 13, 2012, 7:00 GMT)

Clearly most of the batsmen highlighted here have not batted much in England other than when over here for Test matches. But to see Mike Hussey and Alvin Kallicharran on the lists above is quite a shock. Both had fantastically successful careers in County cricket and would have come up against various high quality English and overseas bowlers in the best and worst of English conditions. Even Kallis has spent time over here on the County circuit, spending time with Middlesex in 1997, when he averaged 47 with the bat, and (less successfully), for a limited period with Glamorgan in 1999.

Posted by   on (July 13, 2012, 6:53 GMT)

I don't think the problem with Kallis is an inability to handle the conditions. His technique is impeccable, and he played a number of seasons of county cricket with great success. I think it has more to do with the pressure he puts himself under. There is no opponent Kallis would like to beat more than England in England - he's never been shy of that claim, and the man has, by all accounts, incredibly exacting standards of himself. For that reason I'm not sure this series will be any different from the others. He'll play a big role at some point, but I don't see him being the top run scorer for SA.

Posted by JustOUT on (July 13, 2012, 5:44 GMT)

This will be his Series. He is in supreme form since the series against India. Well, Eng bowlers will test him. But I can see he will be the winner and shut his critics.

Posted by landl47 on (July 13, 2012, 3:55 GMT)

Recent results seem to indicate that Kallis is going to have a hard time in England. In his last two test series, against Sri Lanka in SA and NZ in NZ, he got in a couple of times and made a double hundred and a hundred. However, his other scores were 31, 6 and three ducks, including a pair against SL. Over the course of 7 innings which included a 224 and a 115, to have only made 376 runs shows how inconsistent he has become. Not only that, but no-one would claim that SL (in SA) and NZ are strong bowling attacks and certainly neither side has any seam bowlers even close to the quality of England's pace attack. Kallis will be 37 in October and time waits for no man. He's vital to SA's hopes, so I'm sure he will want to make his last visit a good one. Incidentally, of the list pf players with lower averages in England, the three still playing (Sanga, Sehwag and Hussey) all did poorly on their last visit. This England side is tough to play anywhere, but especially in England.

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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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