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Former New Zealand batsman and captain

Kallis' legacy ranks with the best

He had seven phases to his Test career, and at the end of them he is fit to rank alongside the very greatest

Martin Crowe

December 30, 2013

Comments: 86 | Text size: A | A

Jacques Kallis: absolute dedication, supreme belief, utter skill, devout hard work © ESPNcricinfo

To never see Jacques Kallis again in a Test match will take a while to comprehend, especially since he has stroked another fine century. Fittingly, he will depart the Test arena in the most perfect way - on top of his game and in complete command. It will be a wonderful final memory for all those who have had the privilege to watch him, and especially worked with him. Many superlatives will be attributed to him over the coming days, and rightly so. Kallis broke many barriers and stood alone as the modern age's all-round Adonis, handsomely gifted with a god-given talent.

His record is simply sensational. Therefore it is worth assessment, and makes for fascinating analysis. For a career that has lasted 18 years, it's noteworthy to highlight seven periods: four difficult ones and three irrepressible ones.

As a 20-year-old, Kallis appeared overawed, his first five Tests reaping an average of just 8. Two years in, in his seventh match, he registered his first Test century, at the MCG, to boost a shaky confidence.

It was slow progress. By the end of his first 20 Tests, his return was only two centuries and an average of just about 32, still short of his first 1000 runs. His bowling was keeping him going as a useful contributor - after 25 Tests he had 42 wickets at about 39 apiece. While the potential for bigger brighter horizons were never in doubt, the question was when would it transfer into something significant. The Rainbow Nation needed a transformation. It received it in rugby in 1995 from Nelson Mandela, and from Francois Pienaar when he lifted the Webb Ellis Trophy. The national summer sport needed an injection of the same antidote, and the effort would be led by Jacques Kallis.

Many players have been discarded after such sluggish starts, yet for Kallis there was an all-round component and a growing belief in what might come. Over the next phase, from his 21st Test onwards, the first of three unbelievable run sprees, he emerged as a truly great player of his time.

Maybe it was those initial six Tests that shaped the Kallis way, the removal of risk and the utter devotion to technique and mental preparation. Maybe those early failures instilled a fierce desire to not fail like that again, and when in, to cash in huge. Maybe it would set the gear he would choose to bat in: assured, calm, and safe as a bank.

Cash in he did. In his next 78 Tests, he banked a little under 7000 runs at about 64, scoring 22 centuries. By the time he had reached 98 Tests, his average was a massive 57 almost, with 24 hundreds rubber-stamping his appetite for big scores. Additionally, he had captured nearly 200 Test wickets at 31 to support a claim that he was closing in on the superhuman Garry Sobers, perennially regarded the greatest of all allrounders.

This rich vein of form was cleverly constructed and magnificently compiled. Kallis played in a way that was systematic and controlled; he never blinked an eyelid, his heart rate seemed to hardly go up. It was like he was robotically programmed to conquer the world and dismantle all attacks, retaining all function and power no matter the challenges. What he did was machine-like.

Kallis played with a consistent routine, mentally and technically. His stance simple, body side-on, then a slight back-foot step and a tiny opening of the front foot to set his balance, while his hands positioned the bat, pointing just past off stump at a controlled height. Everything he did was measured and correct. The result being sure footwork, steady balance and a smooth, fluent flow through the stroke. Straight and late. Unhurried. As was his mind.

Yet he very rarely, in this first period of complete dominance, played an innings of sheer, outrageous splendour or irresistible force or abandon, or even gorged himself on a massive double or more (his highest was 189); he just batted in a gear that was methodically safe. If there was any slight criticism, it was the perception that he couldn't change the course of a game in a hurry, couldn't move out of his favourite gear and accelerate a match in his team's favour quickly enough.

As Kallis approached his ton of Tests, he stalled for the first time in a long time, his second tough phase. He somehow managed to not score a hundred in the next nine matches, his average dropping a few notches. The odd doubt came and went, yet he kept the difficult period short when he lurched back into action with twin tons in his 108th Test, against Pakistan in Karachi in 2007. From there he posted six centuries in 11 matches. In the second surge of his career he was simply unstoppable, again. Then he struck a new distraction - the Indian Premier League.

I had the privilege of working with him at Bangalore in 2008, when the IPL began. However, it was clear he was exhausted and spent due to six consecutive Tests and a lot of batting in a short period in sapping conditions. The adrenaline needed for the IPL, with the constant travel and attention, let alone the new way of playing, took even more of a toll on him.

I found Jacques to be a true gent. He was humble and civil in all he did. He never complained, and was happy to ignore the temptation to find an excuse. He was the model pro, someone you could work with. And very easy to sit with and converse on life, cricket and stuff. It was neat to hang with the man for a short period.

Kallis played in a way that was systematic and controlled; he never blinked an eyelid, his heart rate seemed to hardly go up. It was like he was robotically programmed to conquer the world and dismantle all attacks, retaining all function and power no matter the challenges

After IPL 1, Kallis hit a third rough little patch and struggled for another 12 Tests, with no reward, no pleasure on any front, with only four fifties in 19 innings. By the start of 2010, Kallis had shrugged off his run-scoring hiatus and found another gear; in fact he found a few. Interestingly, the IPL forced him to play more expansively, and once he had recharged his batteries and hunger, he went on to an extraordinary run of scores. This time he seemed armed with a new wisdom on expanding his game. We witnessed a turbo-charged century-maker finding a new, more urgent, execution. Actually he went utterly ballistic. All bowlers were nailed by this new stupendous swordsman. The Jacques blade was on fire.

From Tests 131 to 156, in 44 innings over an aggressively sustained period, he stroked and slaughtered another 14 centuries. The third, and final, wind of his mighty career was astronomical. It caused a ripple effect all around the world as the call came out that the supremo himself, Sobers, had been matched once and for all. Kallis was no longer a modern-day marvel, he was an all-time universal master, free to sit among the gods.

On 156 Tests, with 44 sublime hundreds alongside, his astonishing ratio of a hundred every 3.5 Tests or one every six innings, was sufficient to conquer Tendulkar, Ponting and Dravid (but alas not quite Sir Don). That says it all. All of this while taking close to 300 Test wickets and 200 Test catches to boot. Mind-boggling.

After November 2012, Kallis stumbled, a sign that age and exhaustion had caught up. His form dropped - no hundreds and only three fifties in 15 innings - mirroring his opening 15 innings of 18 years ago, when it all began. Until Durban this week. When he conjured up one more masterpiece, his 45th century, and rubber-stamped his true class.

Eighteen years of Jacques Kallis; absolute dedication, supreme belief, utter skill, devout hard work, phenomenal concentration. Add to that his composure in the dressing room and his consistency of endeavour everywhere he went. He has fashioned a legacy that will live in the top echelon forever. He will sit alongside Sobers as the finest all-round cricketer who played the game.

All in all, he has taken on a gigantic number of challenges, and there will be no doubt all around the world when it is said that Kallis learned a great deal from them and conquered them all, one by one, with the precision of any of the greatest performers.

South Africa will bid farewell to their greatest Test player with enormous gratitude.

Martin Crowe, one of the leading batsmen of the late '80s, played 77 Tests for New Zealand

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Posted by Greatest_Game on (January 2, 2014, 18:36 GMT)

Kallis and Sobers. Sobers and Kallis. There is no debate. There are not sufficient grounds for debate. There are not enough between them to determine which was better. For every perceived rating criteria, an opposing one may be employed. For every opinion on one side, there is an opinion on the other. All is conjecture. All else is pointless posturing on behalf of some agenda. Random criteria such as "strike rate" are as applicable as the colour of their underwear! They cannot be separated, and it is pointless to try.

There is only the single fact that they are the two greatest cricketers of all time - period. No others achieved as much on the field of play. No others mastered all the disciplines of the game as did they. No others batted, bowled and fielded with the same acumen. No others scaled the heights they did.

Kallis and Sobers. Sobers and Kallis. The greatest cricketers to grace the game. There is no debate, just this simple, inescapable fact.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (January 2, 2014, 18:23 GMT)

@ Gopalakrishnan Balasubramanian writes "It is conveniently forgotten that Kallis played most of his cricket in South Africa, which is where he has played all his life and has scored most of his centuries…"

It is not forgotten that Kallis played 10 more matches in SA than on tour: 88 in SA, 78 outside of SA. It is not forgotten that Kallis played a slight majority of his matches in the country which, according to in depth analysis by cricinfo stats editor S. Rajesh, it is MOST DIFFICULT to score runs. Yes, during his career Kallis scored his runs where it is MOST DIFFICULT to score runs, & not where it is easy to score runs. He did not play where huge run records are amassed on dead flat, lifeless pitches, but on the lively, bouncy, most difficult to score on tracks in the world!

This does not "put down" Kallis' achievements, but elevates them even further. What it also shows is the huge gap between the class of his batting, and that of the "flat track specialists!"

Posted by Greatest_Game on (January 2, 2014, 17:53 GMT)

@ Gopalakrishnan Balasubramanian writes "by the way, Kallis' batting strike rate is also abysmal along with that of Dravid, which is why Sachin and Ponting are considered greater batsmen than these two...The stats gurus of this world, choose to conveniently ignore this fact.."

All this means, Gopalakrishnan, is that Sachin & Ponting were hasty. They got out more often that Kallis, which is why their averages are lower. Kallis was more reliable - he stayed around to finish things, & was not easily dismissed. We are not talking T20 here!

Sachin & Ponting might be considered greater batsmen by some, but they conveniently ignore the fact that Kallis had the better average - the base line of a batsman's record.

Put it this way: 205 batsmen had a better SR than Ponting, 209 had a better SR than Bradman, and 309 had a better SR than Tendulkar! According to you, we should not conveniently ignore this fact, and conclude that Tendulkar lies at number 310 on the list of great batsmen.

Posted by pjd_Howzat on (January 2, 2014, 14:55 GMT)

Some stats and comments for you all to chew on:

>>> Kallis still holds the record for the fastest 50 in Test Cricket.

>>> If you want to start extrapolating, don't - rather look at the comparison between List A v ODI and First Class v Test - you will see a much better relationship. The only problem Sober followers will have with this, is that GS Sobers looks more like a bowling all rounder in List A than a complete all rounder. Make from it what you want.

The following comment will probably p-off the whole cricketing community and mostly the Aus one. Not that they do not like doing it to others ... >>> Bradman was not as good as everyone makes him out to be - he only batted in 2 countries, Australia and England and played most of his cricket against 1 country, England.

Stats and numbers do not tell you everything, perception most of the time does

Posted by gotmymojo on (January 1, 2014, 17:30 GMT)

Great article. Yes, Jacques Kallis is one of my favorite cricketers, a magnificent all rounder. Very good indeed. Far superior than the other's like Imran, Botham, Hadlee and Kapil Dev.

Now, when we start talking about who is the greatest all rounder of all time, then it is like comparing apples and oranges. But, it has to be Gary Sobers, the God of cricket. Statistically, you can prove anything, but numbers are not everything. They didn't play that many tests then but 26 hundreds in 92 tests is something! Those who saw him, will recall his electrifying presence on the field. A game changer, in every department, who won matches on his own. Fearless - no helmet, thigh pad, scored on uncovered pitches. Magnificent batsman, even better than Richards. If Bradman says he is the greatest all-rounder the game has ever seen, that means something. There will never be another cricketer like Gary Sobers, nobody even comes close by a mile... he did not play for records, just did it naturally

Posted by Testcricketistop on (January 1, 2014, 17:06 GMT)

The fact is evry statistic can be manipulated to suit an argument.

You can argue a batsman is better if he had a higher strike rate than another, then you can argue a batsman is better due to an average. You can also rate a batsman the highest due to sheer number of runs.

But ultimately you need to look at context to truly interpret a batsman's quality. What was his role for his team, did he also have to bowl?

You can consider the fact that Kallis batted at four and Sir GSobers at 6 for most of his career, then you can consider the quality of the team a batsman played for.

Statistics alone provides only the bare facts of a player, but not the essence of a player.

The greatest two allrounders by statistics are Sobers and Kallis. Context is first and foremost a subjective opinion.

Some say Kallis was not an entertainer, yet he hit as many boundaries per innings as Ponting. Perception vs reality.

Posted by rocket123 on (January 1, 2014, 16:47 GMT)

Kallis has been a great player, and only as a batsman he ould match anyone in terms of numbers. Imran Khan the great remains head and shoulders above for only one reason, he was the captain and an astute one and also did not play a lot of competitive cricket for 2 reasons: Shin injury suffered after Indian series in 1982 which did not allow him to bowl for a couple of years, and second there was not this much cricket. As a captain his batting avg was above 52 and if he had bowled in his prime, he would have ended with far more wickets. But I think Imran was the full package-a shrewd and dominating leader in the game, a great in batting as a captain, and a fast bowler capable of tearing apart the best batting line-ups. Kallis has been steady but lacked that Xfactor as a player who could change the game quickly. And, Imran had to lead a team that did not have too many world class but avg players, good enough to play cricket at the elite level. But JK is awesome too.

Posted by   on (January 1, 2014, 9:58 GMT)

Dear Mr. Crowe,

A truly magnificent piece on a magnificent player, by one of the best captain's in the game.

Posted by Chris_Howard on (January 1, 2014, 9:43 GMT)

Bradman may have a mortgage on the title of "Greatest batsman" of all time, but Kallis and Sobers would tussle over the claim of "Greatest cricketer" of all time. Very difficult to separate them.

Posted by   on (January 1, 2014, 9:34 GMT)

One of the finest all-rounders, yes...but is he the greatest all-rounder or modern-day batsman- NO.

I have always seen that a primitive method is used to figure out the greatest all-rounder with highest difference between batting and bowling averages, is the best....strike-rates are never given any importance, here...and, bowling all-rounders like Sir Richard Hadlee are not given due credit due to this approach...Sir Richard was one of the 4 bowlers to have an average of 5 wickets per test match (minimum qualifying standard of 70 tests)...the other three are Lillee, Steyn and Murali, none of them comparable to Sir Richard as an all-rounder....If Kallis had to scale up to Sir Richard's level, he would have had to take 800 plus the way, Kallis' batting strike rate is also abysmal along with that of Dravid, which is why Sachin and Ponting are considered greater batsmen than these two...The stats gurus of this world, choose to conveniently ignore this fact..

Posted by   on (January 1, 2014, 8:54 GMT)

Yasser Iqbal Kidwai,

While comparing Kallis with Sanga, I could see a distinct itch in you to put down Sanga's achievements, by saying he always plays in Sub-continent wickets...It is conveniently forgotten that Kallis played most of his cricket in South Africa, which is where he has played all his life and has scored most of his centuries, will the same logic not apply to Kallis as well, if it does apply to Sanga?

And, I see this as a featured comment for no reason.

Posted by andy172 on (December 31, 2013, 22:24 GMT)

Well said @peter56. I also want to bring out JHK record against Australia and compare it to SRT / Lara / Dravid's record. SRT & Lara just used to trample australia regularly when they were world beaters for more than a decade. That's how I measure batsmenship and will always put SRT, Lara, Sir Viv, Ponting above all. I feel as a batsmen, JHK & Dravid are very similar and thats where it shud stop. One of the greatest players of all time no doubt, but thats it.

Posted by Cricketfan23 on (December 31, 2013, 20:15 GMT)

@soaf you are talking about role reversal between Sachin & Kallis, Sachin has 5 test 100s in SAF. The first 100 came when he wasn't even 20 & the last one came when he was 37. He has dominated all your SAF fast bowlers from Donald to Steyn. And just check Kallis's record against SL in SL or against Warne and you will get your answer. It was Donald who said that Sachin was the best batsman that he ever bowled to. I have never heard any other bowler say that about Kallis. I respect Kallis for being a great all-rounder but don't try to belittle Sachin just because you don't like him.

Posted by peter56 on (December 31, 2013, 18:40 GMT)

sorry' SRT record Tests :177, runs :14692, Average :56.94 Hundreds: 51

Posted by peter56 on (December 31, 2013, 17:46 GMT)

mrgupta has made some very good statistical points another one is to compare SRT stats in tests at the exact age that JHK is now tsts.. runs. avge. 100................................................................ 177 14692 56.94 51 .............................................................. also he had a better average, and more runs,and centuries after 166 tests then all the mania started about his 100th hundred started and his form collapsed JHK was far smarter than SRT he retired before his average started to go.JHK is by a long way the best all- rounder of his generation but not as good a bat as either Lara or Tendulkar.Just check Tendulkars great world cup record and Jacques terrible world cup record.further evidence of JHK not been able to take a match by the scruff of the neck and one paced batting

Posted by peter56 on (December 31, 2013, 17:23 GMT)

DanielCaplan: Just pointing out that Smith and AB were both in the side by 2004, and this is a myth that the SAFFA batting was over dependent on JHK. just check the scorecards, on many occasions it was Boucher coming in at 7, Pollock at 8,and Klusener at 9.has there ever been a stronger 7,8,9 in test cricket? I am afraid there has been a huge outpouring of rose tinted spectacles here.JHK sought to have the perfect Defensive technique, to totally eliminate risk,many times throughout his career, there were accusations of selfishness and not batting for the team,checkout Telford Vice reports over the years.When a giant retires people naturally prefer to concentrate on his good points, this is perfectly understandable, but we should not completrely sweep his bad points under the carpet and pretend tthey dont exist

Posted by dual.citizen on (December 31, 2013, 17:21 GMT)

How can you call an all rounder "all time best" OR even "best of his era" when he ha taken around 1.8 wickets per test. Kallis was a great batsman. Barry richards, his own countryman is considered best SA batsman by many.

Posted by Tendoschate on (December 31, 2013, 13:38 GMT)

One of the Finest All Rounders in the era of cricket history.

Posted by   on (December 31, 2013, 13:18 GMT)

Dear Mr. Crowe,

A truly magnificent piece on a magnificent player, by one of the best captain's in the game.

Posted by SaudFaruqi on (December 31, 2013, 12:05 GMT)

A living legend of the finest game known to mankind. King Kallis will be remembered for as long as cricket is played and watched.

Posted by   on (December 31, 2013, 11:55 GMT)

Peerless all rounder and the greatest of them all with an average higher than tendulkar along with 292 wits and a rock solid temperament .At one stage wondered he would surpass 51 tons of Tendulkar but for his retirement now. Hats off to the greatest all rounder of all time....

Posted by Protears on (December 31, 2013, 10:33 GMT)

"Run Scorer", "Run Accumulator", "Entertainer" are axiomatic terms to pigeon hole players by subjective standards of the person in question, I don't subscribe to that school by the basis that scoring and accumulation are the same thing, and domination has subtle degrees of interpretation.

The great Don was not a showman of the Sobers, Vivian or Barry Richards, Lara or Tendulkar ilk, he was a meticulous run scoring machine with a skill that nobody has come close to replicating. He did not entertain with flamboyance he entertained on pure unrelenting accumulation of runs dominating all in his way. This doesn't make him more or less the pillar of cricketing perfection. When Hashim Amla accumulated his way to 311* against the best team and best bowlers in the world at Lords any less showman than Sehwag bashing 300 on a pitch which saw 1800 runs scored, or Mathew Hayden pumping Zimbabwe around for a world record? It was showman, it was skillful and it was entertaining.

Posted by BillyCC on (December 31, 2013, 10:25 GMT)

@Xolile, AB instead of Gilchrist or Knott? Without Gilchrist, AB in his current playing status would not exist and he would just be a batsman. That should be taken into acccount in the greatness argument. Knott is regarded as technically the best. AB is a very good keeper in terms of athleticism but hasn't proven himself against keeping to quality spin. The other two have. Also, AB is technically not a first choice keeper. Had the unfortunate accident not happened to Boucher, he might still be playing even today at the age of 37.

Posted by BillyCC on (December 31, 2013, 10:16 GMT)

@Eliya Syed, what a silly comment. No one is making that type of argument. If however, after a long period of time, Pujara averages 65, then yes, he will be judged a greater batsmen than Kallis, Tendulkar, Dravid etc. The combination of longevity and average is the most powerful statistic in cricket and comparable across all eras when you consider performance vs peers in the same era.

Posted by   on (December 31, 2013, 10:15 GMT)

With Respect to comparing Sobers & Kallis, i personally beleive we should not compare these two players because 1 - When Sobers was playing their was no much test match played @ that point of time. 2 - Their is a change in the pitch during Sobers was playing and kallis was playing. I strongly believe these two great All rounders are the best during their era.

Posted by BillyCC on (December 31, 2013, 10:10 GMT)

It's hard to separate Kallis and Sobers. It's also hard to separate Kallis and Tendulkar as batsmen but surely the 300 wickets and 20000 deliveries negates anything that Tendulkar ever came up with in his career. Regardless, Tendulkar is not the greatest batsmen of all time if there is debate whether he is the greatest batsmen of his generation. The argument of Kallis did not dominate bowling attacks is not an argument. I doubt Tendulkar, Lara or Ponting would have been able to dominate bowling attacks if they had to bowl 20000 deliveries in their career also. That's why context is so important in these discussions.

Posted by Protears on (December 31, 2013, 10:04 GMT)

The role of the all rounder is pivotal, that said I do like the distinction between bowling and batting all rounders, Miller, Dev, Khan, Botham, Pollock, Hadlee and the a few more can be added all great bowlers with batting ability, but only Kallis and Sobers stand as batting All Rounders. Kallis and Sobers are compatible on so many levels yet the generations they played are so different. Both achieved their status as the best utility players because of their stand out contributions in the era they played. Kallis is legitimately a top order all batsmen while sobers was a middle order player, Kallis due to the generation he played in had more volume of cricket and adaptability to the limited overs and longer format which Sobers didn't have to deal with, Sobers didn't have to deal with the rigors of playing Tests, ODI's, T20's, IPL and major tournaments in a calendar year, that said he had his own challenges namely uncovered pitches and limited technology.

Posted by Protears on (December 31, 2013, 9:54 GMT)

If I had to make a All Time XI:

Sir Leonard Hutton, Sir Don Bradman, Sir George Headley, Sir Vivian Richards, Sir Gary Sobers, Adam Gilchrist, Richard Hadlee, Kapil Dev, Shane Warne, Wasim Akram, Malcolm Marshall.

Only possible changes to that list could be Keith Miller, Jacques Kallis and Imran Khan, one batting and two legendary bowling all rounders, if you just hand the gloves to someone else then

Bradman, Hutton, Headley, Richards, Kallis, Sobers, Hadlee, Dev, Warne, Akram, Marshall, Good luck beating that.

Posted by on (December 31, 2013, 8:47 GMT)

@soaf sorry, i mean Sachin basher. I don' think you have seen batting of Sachin. Sachin has scored 5 centuries in SA alone and that too from 1991 onwards(I think SA is best during the early to mid 90's) from the young age of 19. He scored 2 centuries on his madien tours to Aus and Eng. I don't need to say bowling is much difficult than today. Just put Sachin in any other team who have good bowling attacks you can see the difference. Put him in SA or Aus and you can see all those centuries turing into match wining knocks. India has poor bowling whose fast bowlers can't even take 20 wickets on fast seamy bouncy wickets. More to this even subclass allrounder of SA,NZ,Aus score centuries against them on those tracks. Now if Sachin has to face this kind of attack he can easily make lot of runs, we have seen this in IPL. Put Kallis in other team and let him face the music of Satyen and Company, we will see the reality. Having said that i am a great fan of Kallis , but he is not in the class

Posted by on (December 31, 2013, 8:40 GMT)

@soaf sorry, i mean Sachin Basher. I don't think you have seen batting of Sachin. Sachin has scored 5 centuries in SA alone and that too from 1991 onwards(I think SA is best during the early to mid 90's) from the young age of 19. He scored 2 centuries on his madien tours to Aus and Eng. I don't need to say bowling is much difficult than today. Just put Sachin in any other team who have good bowling attacks you can see the difference. Put him in SA or Aus and you can see all those centuries turing into match wining knocks. India has poor bowling whose fast bowlers can't even take 20 wickets on fast seamy bouncy wickets. More to this even subclass allrounder of SA,NZ,Aus score centuries against them on those tracks. Now if Sachin has to face this kind of attack he can easily make lot of runs, we have seen this in IPL. Put Kallis in other team and let him face the music of Satyen and Company, we will see the reality. Having said that i am a great fan of Kallis , but he is not in the class

Posted by Rajaraviiverma on (December 31, 2013, 8:36 GMT)

Any body trying to compare Kallis to just a pure batsman have no idea of cricket and what is fast bowling involves. He is a man who was a regular 4th bowler, taken close to 300 tests and third highest test scorer. Can any one get the effort involved? Tendulkar or Lara don't need to bowl . That makes this man the greatest cricketer of the modem era. Even above sobers as conditions were easier then.

Posted by   on (December 31, 2013, 8:31 GMT)

Cheteshwar Pujara is better than Kallis. Look at his average. Yes, that's how silly most commentors (or whatever you call them) on this article sound.

Posted by BellCurve on (December 31, 2013, 8:28 GMT)

@ Yasser - BatAve/BowlAve is a far better measure of an all rounder than BatAve-BowlAve. The top 5 for bowlers with 100+ wickets are: 1 Sobers 1.698; 2 Kallis 1.696; 3 Imran 1.652; 4 Miller 1.609; 5 Pollock 1.398. Two observations: first, Sobers and Kallis are virtually inseparable; second, there is a significant gap between Miller in fourth position and Pollock in fifth. It is safe to conclude that in selecting the greatest all-rounder of all time, no-one should look beyond Sobers, Kallis, Imran and Miller. Footnote is that Ashwin, Jadeja and Philander are shaping up to be very good all-rounders; but it is still too early to make a call.

Posted by mrgupta on (December 31, 2013, 8:19 GMT)

@ Kingman75: Its like saying Sobers is better than Don and whoever favours Don either knows nothing about Cricket or is a biased Aussie fan! Kallis averages 55.37 at the end of his 166th test with 45 centuries, Sachin had an average of 55.56 at the end of his 166th test with 47 centuries. Kallis is definitely a great alrounder and a great batsmen, a Legend of Cricket but that fact doesn't diminish the achievements of another legend.

Posted by srikanths on (December 31, 2013, 8:15 GMT)

Kallis was the greatest cricketr of the last 4 decades is almost an undenilable fact but saying that he was the best batsman, better than a Lara or Tendulkar would not be quite right. The best is the one who score against the best in all conditions. Kallis was a gr4eat batsman but not quite in the class of Lara or an SRT but was he more valuable to the team than a Lara or SRT , the answer would be a resounding Yes

Posted by sames on (December 31, 2013, 7:52 GMT)

It is unfortunate that most could not refrain from belittling someone else's accomplishments while heaping praise on another. Even in the same era, it is often times difficult to compare objectively. Problem with stats is that it can be manipulated to suit one's point of view and greatness transcends mere numbers anyway. But it can come in all shapes and forms… Lara is a genius looking at certain yardsticks, Tendulkar is probably the next only to Don while looking at others and similarly, Kallis has his points. Mr. Crowe has done a great job in restricting himself to the subject and not fall prey to the temptation :) They are all greats and I just feel privileged to have witnessed them all in their primes. Cricket is certainly going to be poorer without these class acts, but I am sure the next gen holds enough promise. Happy New Year everyone!

Posted by mrgupta on (December 31, 2013, 7:30 GMT)

@ soaf: First of all Congrats to Kallis for finishing with a great inning, mark of a true champion, he is undoubtedly one of the legends of the game. Second, role reversal is not going to provide you correct picture because the player plays best at home conditions and that has been true for any great player. He started playing on these pitches from young age and was fully adapted. Just to put things in perspective Kallis averaged 53.8 in Away conditions, Sachin averaged 54.7 playing away. Kallis took 6.5 innings for each away century, Sachin took 6.06 innings. Kallis averaged 35 in England and SL while Sachin averaged atleast 40 in every country that he has batted in tests. Infact, Sachin is the only player ever who has played in more than 6 countries and averaged atleast 40 in all of them.

Posted by pcraju on (December 31, 2013, 7:19 GMT)

Kallis shouldn't be compared with Tendulkar or other batsmen though Kallis has scored as much as a specialist batsman. He should be compared against the all rounders. He is clearly the best among the modern cricket all-rounders. Scoring runs 3rd in the all-time list makes him great. No need to do a lot of debate about MoM, being a match winner and crowd attracting player. He is a class player like Rahul Dravid but not a famous player like Tendulkar. Still he has contributed to the game a lot with both bat and ball. It is his own style that he remains as a silent contributor without making much noise to appear on headlines. We should have such players too in the game who are consistent, work hard and contribute with both bat and ball without making headlines. We should appreciate his approach to the game, how he spends time at the crease to construct his innings, his patience, cool and calm attitude and I wouldn't say he played for records.

Posted by Kingman75 on (December 31, 2013, 7:14 GMT)

@xolile, biased much? Steyn, Richards, AB and Kallis. Ha! Bradman batting at 4 behind kallis? Two batting all rounders is also redundant. Anyway, this isn't a South African XI. Try to be a little unbiased.

Posted by Kingman75 on (December 31, 2013, 7:03 GMT)

Kallis is a greatest batsmen than tendulkar. Anyone who says otherwise knows nothing about cricket or is a biased Indian fan. Average is better and throw in the 300 wickets and it is undeniable.

Posted by dual.citizen on (December 31, 2013, 4:10 GMT)

Comparing Sobers and Kallis is absurd being from two different eras. Sobers was a delight to watch, he was greatly entertaining even in his days of slooow cricket. He was more complete cricketer, a team in himself batsman, medium fast and spinner all in one. He was a great captain and a mentor of many great cricketers. Kallis is not even the best SA batsman let alone world, the title of best SA batsman goes to Barry Richards. Those not having heard or seen Sobers and Barry are unfortunate. It was a tie between them for the title, however Sobers being complete and best all rounder had an edge.

Posted by soaf on (December 31, 2013, 2:31 GMT)

@Cricketfan23:mate if there is a role reversal occurs b/w sachin and kallis careers and assume both swap their respective countries then it would have been very disastrous for sachin and on other hand very fruitful to kallis. then one could see sachin struggled to even survive in int'l cricket forget about performing.batting in SAF is not childs play its a challenge from ball 1.where as in india on their roads you can see double centuries from substandard players and when these sort of players visit outside of their dens then it becomes a Himalayan task for their eleven to make 200.sachin was a good player but unfortunately not great player.there is a lot of evidence to prove dont disrespect the legend of kallis coz he is true champion and when you will compare his legend with fake god then a mismatch of huge proportion will occur.

Posted by JoshFromJamRock on (December 30, 2013, 22:31 GMT)

To avoid conflict with the Sobers fans, Kallis is the best player cricket has had in the past 40+ years hands down. As a batsman he has to be rated among the best (Sachin, Lara, Ponting & Dravid) of his Era. Fittingly they are the top five run accumulators in Test cricket.

As a bowler he was quite good. To still average low 30s in a era of batting dominance (which began in late the 90s) as a 4th or 5th bowler is very good and is/will be better than the "good" and "better" bowlers of this era.

Although Sobers was more versatile and more entertaining...I've got to give it to Kallis because of the impeccable quality, consistency and duration of his best period of performance with both bat & ball. His longevity is a plus also.

Got to mention Steyn though. To have the best strike rate of all-time greats and currently have a top-10 average IN AN ERA OF BATTING DOMINANCE is legendary accomplishment. I definitely wouldn't argue with folks who have him in their all-time XI already.

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 21:06 GMT)

Perfectly said Mr. Crowe, I concur on all accounts. Your article is as sure footed & well paced as a classic Kallis innings. Thank You.

Posted by gimme-a-greentop on (December 30, 2013, 19:38 GMT)

@ Joll - your comment that Kallis did not dominate bowlers is slightly absurd, whichever way you look at it. His role in the team, as has been highlighted by the media, has always been the rock. Once we found a few other players who could bat time this pressure lessened to a degree. I have seen him dominate and plunder plenty of bowling attacks.

Posted by Cricketfan23 on (December 30, 2013, 19:00 GMT)

the fact all the Kallis fans are so determined to prove that Kallis is better than Sachin itself shows how great Sachin was. Kallis has a better average but had he played 200 tests he would have averaged in the 40s considering how he was batting this year. He was lucky to play his last innings against an Indian attack. The same Indian attack that even struggled to dismiss steyn & robin peterson. And lets not even talk about the strike rate throughout his career. Sachin's batting attracted crowds to the grounds whereas not even half the stadium was full to watch Kallis's last test. Kallis was a great cricketer and perhaps the greatest all-rounder ever but he was never in class of Sachin & Lara or for that matter even ponting. As much as the Kallis's fans would like to believe otherwise, thats the truth.

Posted by Joll on (December 30, 2013, 18:54 GMT)

Kallis was a great all rounder, but not as great as Sobers for the simple reason Kallis was a run accumulator, rather than a run scorer. I would put Kallis the batsman in the same category as Ken Barrington, who averaged 58 in tests. Both were great at accumulating runs, but neither really dominated bowling attacks. The truly great batsmen dominated bowlers. Kallis didn't. Ian Chappell has stated Sobers was the greatest batsman he ever saw. I suspect Kallis would not rate in Chappell's top 10 batsmen, because he did not dominate bowlers.

Posted by soaf on (December 30, 2013, 18:49 GMT)

kallis is easily the greatest player the world has ever seen and arguably the best all rounder as well.sobers also comes into context but he played in the era when cricket really revolved around few countries and didnt have the same exposure as it is enjoying now(BTW sobers vs kallis is huge debate).the all time MOM winners list showed the impact of kallis in teams win and really puts an end to sacihin vs kallis debate.sachin is one of the greats of his era but jacque is the greatest the all time MOM winners list he is in the company of greats like warne marshall and akram and who knows could be easily ahead of these legends because of his ability with both ball and bat.

Posted by Narkovian on (December 30, 2013, 18:46 GMT)

You can't argue with statistics, at least not when they are as clear cut. The best all - rounder ever doesn't have to be the very best bat, or the very best bowler of all time. But Kallis was flamin' good at both ! I was lucky enough to see Sobers play many times. So I am biased. His athleticism and movement were sublime. Indescribably smooth. So I'll go for him. Kallis was more workmanlike. But all sorts can be great champs. @lankavigi - Kallis was not medium paced in his hey- day. He was quick. (Often quicker than Alan Donald). A brilliant bowler.

Posted by DanielCaplan on (December 30, 2013, 18:35 GMT)

Great article Mr. Crowe. As you mention Kallis, from around 2009 became a lot more aggressive as a batsman and his run rate (an entertainment factor) increased. My take on the reason for this is that for the first 13 years or so of his career SA batting was notoriously brittle and his role in the side became that of permanent sheet anchor. With the emergence around 2008 of the likes of Smith, de Villiers, Amla, Boucher, Prince etc our team finally had other players who could perform that role and our battling gained a steel which seldom collapsed. Kallis realized this and was able to finally play more positively. The period from then until saw a far more entertaining JK. He will be remembered as a batsman who battled to change gear when the match called for it but it was because his country needed an anchorman The Proteas had an inferiority complex for many years and were happy to be competitive. Kallis showed us that we can be the best in the world and that is his legacy.

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 18:32 GMT)

what a legend kallis has been; pure class and grace will be missed

Posted by diri on (December 30, 2013, 17:40 GMT)

King Kallis ...The king of kings...The most valuable player the world has ever seen or will see. There will never be another like him again. India can think Sachin was the greatest but the rest of the world knows that Kallis was better and more valuable. If my life depended on it I would rather have kallis at the crease instead of Sachin....Thank you KING Kallis. We will miss you

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 17:39 GMT)

There is no point in being emotional just because a player is from your country. Give the man his due. Kallis is the greatest cricketer ever along with Sir Gary Sobers. Period.

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 17:31 GMT)

Best allrounder I have ever seen. Farewell JK!

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 17:28 GMT)

I'm just very sad that Kallis did not wait until after the Newlands test against Australia! He would have got a better send off in front of a full packed crowd in his home town, and he definitely woyld have surpassed Ponting, being just 89 runs behind him.

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 17:04 GMT)

i hope he would play test at least more two years then surely he will break sachins batting records and become best batsman in the world.kalls diidnt get great admire from SA cricket is shame when looking sachins farewell.

Posted by niazbhi on (December 30, 2013, 17:04 GMT)

Marshall, Lara, Tendulkar, Warne, McGrath, Murali, Hadlee, Imran, Javed, Gavasker, They are all great. If I had to pick one, I would pick Kallis. It was funny Sanjay Manjerekar compiled all the stats between Tendulkar and Kallis and pointed out indian batsmen benefited from flat pitches and still picked Tendulkar over Kallis. I would pick Kallis as the best batsman and the best allrounder. Gilchrist, Gavaskar, Lara, Kallis, Tendulkar, Miadad, Imran, Hadlee, Warne, Marshall, Mcgrath/Murali/Akram/Ambrose

Posted by lankavigi on (December 30, 2013, 17:01 GMT)

Kallis is definitely up there with all the top cricketers, but I still feel he deserved more appraisal than he got. Just imagine if Kallis was in the Indian cricket team, he would have definitely stolen all the praise from Sachin Tendulkar. Kallis is a much better and more valuable a player than Sachin. He was a great batsman a fantastic medium pacer and an amazing slip fielder. Sachin was a great batsmen, but rarely bowled and was quite an ordinary fielder. The fact that India are a mad cricketing nation means that Sachin will definitely be seen as the best cricketer of his time, but I don't think he really is. Kallis's batting averages are up there with Sachin and he has been very consistent too. I feel Kallis is a better player than Sachin and is as equally good with the bat as Sachin is.

Posted by ChrisKit on (December 30, 2013, 17:00 GMT)

Easily the greatest all-rounder in the history of the game, tokenism and sentimentalism aside!

Posted by rizwan1981 on (December 30, 2013, 16:57 GMT)

Kallis averaged 55 in tests whereas Tendulkar's was 53 per test innings-So , why is Kallis not the best batsman of his generation?

Posted by Criktic on (December 30, 2013, 16:55 GMT)

If he had played as many matches as Tendulkar, he would have broken all the records. Amazing Player! A fan from Pakistan.

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 16:26 GMT)

Great article Martin. A fitting ode to a giant of our time. Certainly one of the the greats in modern cricket along with Murali, Warne, Wasim, Laras & Sachin and may well deserve to be called the greatest of all time. We salute you and wish you well.

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 16:16 GMT)

Greatest All rounder without a doubt; Will be Missed. Thank You King Kallis

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 16:15 GMT)

3rd Highest Runscorer in Test cricket + nearly 300 test wickets WOW; This man is out of the ordinary. King Kallis will be Missed

Posted by keptalittlelow on (December 30, 2013, 16:06 GMT)

The best gentleman cricketer of all time with better batting averages than Sachin Tendulkar add to it 292 Test wickets. Cricket will miss KING KALLIS.

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 15:41 GMT)

I'm English, so hold no bias!, and of all the players to recently retire, this feels the saddest of them all, he is the best cricketer I've seen in my 32 years on this earth, to me better than Lara, Ponting, Tendulkar, Warne and McGrath due to the unbelievable all round ability he possessed over such an astonishingly sustained period. Waht a player and what a gent, cricket will be a poorer sport for his retirement :-(

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 15:25 GMT)

I and many experts rate kallis "one of the greatest" cricketer of all time, i know that sachin, lara, ponting are more flamboynt than kallis, but as a cricketer he is more useful to his team. he has 292 wickets also. and a record 21 man of the match awards in test matches. a true legend, we will miss you kaliis, my all time top 5 ranking is: 1) Bradman the greatest, 2) Kallis and Sobers, 3) Tendulkar and Murli, 4) Lara and Warne, 5)Viv Richard, Imran, Wasim, Ponting ,MacGrath

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 15:16 GMT)

Excellent article from one of the most stylish players of the '80s and early '90s on one of the most stylish players of the last 15 years. He gave very little away in interviews over the course of his career but watching his post match interview today I can only concur with Martin Crowe that Kallis is a true gent, an absolute class all-round man and one of the greatest all-rounders of all time.

Posted by Vikramaditya100 on (December 30, 2013, 15:01 GMT)

Jacques Kallis is one of a kind... Probably the most rarest kind of all-rounder... Solid yet Spectacular Bat....a Bowler who could alter between pace, swing, cut and what not... and a very assured fielder.... Outstanding without being flashy.... I guess that is his overall legacy..... you don't need to be flashy to be outstanding.... Also great article by Mr. Crowe himself.... one of the best tributes I have read on this website.... Jacques Kallis.... Take a Bow.... Salute.....

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 14:51 GMT)

One of the finest and gentle cricketers I have watched since 1970.Jack we will miss you very much.You will be remembered by lot of cricket lovers over the globe.Stay well and remain in touch with cricket in any capacity.You have yet lot to give to this great sport.

Posted by BruceBaskin on (December 30, 2013, 14:43 GMT)

Although we've not seen the return of the proliferation of great all-rounders like we had in the Eighties (Kapil Dev, Botham, Imran Khan and Richard Hadlee), Kallis' body of work stands up with the best of those four. Just as Botham was meteoric, Kallis was rock steady. As Martin Crowe states above, he had his drier patches along the way, but there was rarely the test in which he didn't make some kind of positive contribution (the focus is rightly on his batting, but he could help turn an innings with his bowling or fielding, too).

It'll be strange to not see Jacques Kallis or Sachin Tendulkar on the Test scene in 2014, but they've both earned their rest. Kudos from America, Gents.

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 14:42 GMT)

what a way to go. all the best Kallis. regards from driving for life Nottingham driving lessons school

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 14:41 GMT)

When he bowls, He is a full time bowler.When He bats, He is a full time batsman and he is more than an allrounder he is KING KALLIS" he is a "Real Legend Player"

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 14:37 GMT)

Really ckt. will be looser without The king he were on top of his game , why is he retiring ? But surely only on bating front ,He is the greatest batsman after sir ,Brain charles Lara from 90 onwards , king All haill king ,the legend of legends ,that have won even the last game he played ,real matchwinner and that selfish player of stats , . Greatest player afrer sir Lara,

Posted by Sachinfan8 on (December 30, 2013, 14:30 GMT)

@xolile no mcgrath,akram,sachin,waqar,clive,gilchrist..seriously thats ur greatest test team.great joke.carry on..entertain us

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 14:29 GMT)

fantastic cricketer very sorry to set he had retired, I had hoped he would hang in and challenge Tendulkar.

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 14:19 GMT)

hats off to you SIR KALLIS...

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 14:18 GMT)

kallis is best

Posted by squidhead on (December 30, 2013, 14:00 GMT)

This is a fitting tribute, Martin, to a bloke many (myself included) would consider the greatest player of the modern era, perhaps of all time. What an astounding career, especially given is struggles at the start. Those numbers may never be matched. Just quietly, your writing is hitting a pretty rich vein these days as well.

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 13:51 GMT)

Perhaps the way to sum Kallis up would be to say in simple terms this was a man who averaged more than Tendulkar and Lara and had a bowling average only slightly higher than Jimmy Anderson. Not too bad considering how he had to juggle both aspects of his game. Bowling a decent spell at 85mph must have been hard after spending a whole day batting but he still did it.

A true world class all rounder who is only challenged by Sobers. He should rightly be remembered as the finest all rounder of his generation if not history and from his numbers possibly the best batsman of his generation.

Posted by Gavin_AM on (December 30, 2013, 13:50 GMT)

Thanks, Martin, for a glowing article. Most South Africans are happy to indulge in waxing lyrical about one of our own. It helps that statistically, and in terms of international reputation (as your own opinion bears out), this lyricism is justified. By analogy, I can imagine the Indians are happy (quite rightly) to do the same with ST, and are proud to read similar articles about their hero/es and giant/s of the game. There is a lot more we could say, but I am glad that an authority such as yourself has covered the gist of it. Thanks, Jacques, for the past 18 years. You have left South African cricket in a far better state than you found it. God speed!

Posted by Bhamo on (December 30, 2013, 13:49 GMT)

One of the best article on one of the Greatest All-Rounder of all time in world cricket.

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 13:38 GMT)

Signs off in style!!#KingKallis

Posted by BellCurve on (December 30, 2013, 13:37 GMT)

Greatest Test XI of all time: 1 Hobbs 2 Barry Richards 3 Kallis 4 Bradman 5 Viv 6 Sobers 7 ABdV 8 Hadlee 9 Marshall 10 Steyn 11 Warne

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