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Sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton

Never another like Kallis

It's hard to see anyone maintaining such discipline, efficiency, focus and fitness for close to two decades

Rob Steen

January 8, 2014

Comments: 83 | Text size: A | A

Never again will the world's best cricketer be a batsman-slash-fast bowler-slash-stoic © Getty Images

Has this game of ours ever suffered such a prolonged outbreak of mourning? Tendulkar, Dravid, Ponting, Kallis, Yousuf, Laxman, Boucher (wk), Lee, Swann, Ntini, Muralitharan: a team composed of Test retirees this middle-aged decade makes depressing reading. A makeshift opening duo, true, and a tad light on pace; then again, McGrath, Pollock, Vaas, Flintoff, Harmison and Hoggard all quit the five-day fray between 2007 and 2009. Granted, Chris Rogers could wind up as the new Mike Hussey, but since India's selectors now seem irretrievably allergic to Virender Sehwag, the sense of grievous and irreparable loss hardly recedes.

Nor, for that matter, is there too much petrol left in the collective tank of this half-decent XI: Graeme Smith, Gayle, Sangakkara (wk), Jayawardene, Pietersen, Younis, Chanderpaul, Johnson, Ajmal, Steyn and Anderson. All the more reason to wonder, as Gideon Haigh did in the Times last week, whether a game whose aspirants can now fulfil their ambitions less taxingly can possibly maintain its capacity "to make, rather than merely to sell".

But before we get too tearfully fearful about ever seeing their likes again, consider the following XI, all of whose members hung up their whites between December 1990 and the end of 1993: Greenidge, Haynes, Richards, Miandad, Gower (wk - for the fun of it), Border, Botham, Imran, Kapil, Marshall and Qadir. And between 1984 and 1987? Gavaskar, Wright, Greg Chappell, Zaheer, Lloyd, Marsh (wk), Holding, Lillee, Garner, Thomson, Willis. Between 2000 and 2003? Anwar, Mark Waugh, De Silva, Azharuddin, Andy Flower, Healy (wk), Wasim, Waqar, Donald, Ambrose and Walsh.

Nor should this be regarded as an exclusively modern trend. Rewind to the years spanning 1953 and 1957 and it is hard to argue that this combo would be significantly inferior to the aforementioned: Morris, Hutton, Headley, Hassett, Compton, Miller, Gomez, Tallon (wk), Wardle, Bedser and Johnston.

Who, furthermore, is to say with any vestige of certainty that the following XI will not bid adieu in a similarly emotional and adulatory rush between 2020 and 2023 - Cook, Amla, Clarke, Taylor, Bell, De Villiers (wk), Shakib, Ashwin, Philander, Broad and Morkel? Or that they won't be emulated, if not eclipsed, come the end of the 2020s by one numbering Dhawan, Pujara, Kohli, Rahane, Stokes, Williamson, Dominic Hendricks (wk), Gazi, Boult, Junaid and Chathura Peiris? Among the chief assets of spectator sport, after all, is its capacity for renewal and regeneration. Then again, quite why we should expect anything less of those steeped in the art of competition is utterly beyond me.

But another Jacques Henry Kallis? Really? Not in the conventional sense of an allrounder - as Kartikeya Date stressed in his recent blog here, Kallis was a batsman who bowled, not a man equally or even similarly productive in both guises - but as a truly modern allrounder, as liable to neutralise and/or obliterate opponents over five days as 50 overs or 20? Doubts are rabidly unconfined.

Let's deal quickly - if not lightly - with the bottom line. To average more with the bat in Tests than all bar one of one's illustrious peers is affirmation enough (despite debuting half a decade after Kallis, Kumar Sangakkara surely counts as a peer); to lead them all across three formats (combined average just south of 50) supplies icing of the lushest sort. To throw in 577 international wickets, enough to penetrate the all-time top 20 of another category altogether, defies credulity. We could go on and on, but a lily of this lustre surely has no need of gilding.

While others have entertained as regally as Sobers, will anyone ever again endure as productively as Kallis?

Which brings us, inevitably and not a little painfully, to The Sobers Question. Having witnessed both in their prime, I have no doubt whatsoever that a) Garry Sobers and Kallis, the only two Test players ever to have amassed 6000 runs and 200 wickets, were the finest flannelled fools I've ever seen, and b) however odious comparisons may be, I have no intention of resisting them.

I am no less obstinately adamant that Sobers, infinitely more the showman, scored vastly higher on the thrill-o-meter. True, his pomp coincided with impressionable boyhood rather than been-there-seen-that adulthood, but whereas both men subverted the mindset of their times, they did so with contrasting philosophies: Kallis prospered through attrition, drawing on a bottomless well of patience and persistently winning the mind games; Sobers grabbed matches by force of personality and scruff of neck, shaking so hard they had no option but to change course.

Even so, amid an era of unquestionably greater demands on body, mind and soul, one where allroundedness is a compliment more readily applied to wicketkeepers, it should be marvelled that Kallis, in terms of overall returns, so often stands ahead of Sobers, notably with the ball.

Check out the respective workloads. Sobers totted up *383 Test and other first-class appearances, 95 one-dayers of sundry hues, and a few dozen more in the grimly competitive Lancashire Leagues; Kallis clocked on for *257 Test and first-class outings, *421 ODIs and other List A fixtures, and *134 T20 contests in various dodgy uniforms. Nor did he conserve energy by cutting his run and floating up some spin, nor drop down to No. 6. Besides, if he was more averse to risk, given the more venomous attacks he had to confront, can we blame him? The keywords are consistency and constancy: the team man par excellence.

Yet if Kallis challenged our perception of what was possible after Sobers abdicated, why should it not be within the realms of foreseeability that someone will match, even surpass both? Right now, even if this inveterate Pom refuses to get carried away by the intoxicating promise of Ben Stokes, and accepts that Stuart Broad the batsman will never rise from part-time handyman to full-time usefulness, there are still three plausible candidates to couple 5000 Test runs with 500 wickets - Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, and Shakib Al-Hasan. That all are spinners is assuredly no coincidence: such are the demands on body and soul, it is becoming increasingly difficult to envisage their faster brethren undertaking as prolonged a quest for that particular grail as Kallis, let alone Botham, Imran, Kapil and Pollock.

Unfortunately - for us as well as him - the most compelling member of that aforementioned triumvirate has the disadvantage of representing Bangladesh. After all, since debuting in 2007, Shakib, the 25th man to harvest 2000 runs and 100 wickets at the highest level, has averaged fewer than five Tests per annum.

It is a measure of his potential, nonetheless, that only five others have achieved such a double while averaging 35-plus with the bat and less with the ball: This, though, is where we separate men from boys. However impressive you may find the differentials for Tony Greig (8.23), Keith Miller (+14) and Imran Khan (14.88), they pale next to those brandished by Kallis (22.71) and Sobers (23.74). But while South Africa could well have been a force without Kallis and West Indies without Sobers, the burden Shakib will have to bear for the next decade promises to be of largely Sisyphean proportions.

Garry Sobers hits out 1973, England v West Indies, Lord's
In their different ways, Sobers and Kallis scaled the heights of versatility © Getty Images

So, as the final arbiter of Kallis' uniqueness, let's settle for simplicity: a tidy number that, helpfully, has no need of decimals - nor, for that matter, a comparison with Sobers. Admittedly, Test cricket's first Man-of-the-Match award had yet to be made when the latter retired, but Kallis' tally of 22 nonetheless heads all comers. Next, on 19, comes Muttiah Muralitharan, who played 33 matches fewer and was named Man of the Series 11 times in 61 starts to Kallis' nine in 61. Subjective as such judgements invariably are, only a very small minority defy credibility. And just as no single cricketer has yet meant as much to his team as Muralitharan meant to Sri Lanka, Kallis was three times the cricketer.

Yet in many ways he defined what Huw Richards of the International New York Times dubbed "passive-aggressive" cricket, the same strategy that first hoisted then petarded England. Effective while the game was shifting away from viewing pace as the chief weapon, less so once David Warner and Faf du Plessis began ridiculing the assumption that alleged T20 specialists cannot adapt when tactics are determined by time.

In their different ways, Sobers and Kallis scaled the heights of versatility. The former, a professional with an amateur outlook, aimed to entertain; for all his remarkable late conversion to T20 destroyer, the latter's priority was to endure. But while others have entertained as regally as Sobers, will anyone ever again endure as productively as Kallis? Since this would mean maintaining discipline, efficiency, focus, fitness and occasional fabulousness for the best part of two decades, often in three formats, this is where doubts are gravest.

"Never again" is a big statement, a dangerously Churchillian statement. Made by the then British PM in the aftermath of the Holocaust, it is a proclamation, given subsequent atrocities in Rwanda, Kosovo, Darfur and elsewhere, that really ought never to be uttered without an insurance policy that covers thoughtless misinformation. In this case, recklessness seems justified.

Never again will the world's best cricketer be a batsman-slash-fast bowler-slash-stoic. Never again will caution breed greatness. Never again will a sporting superstar enjoy the delights of a low profile. Never again will a national hero mean so little to the majority of the population. Never again, therefore, will we see another Jacques Kallis. Our children must judge whether this is a cue for undiluted mourning.

09:45:52 GMT, January 9, 2014: Figures corrected.

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

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Posted by polo69 on (January 12, 2014, 9:14 GMT)

While a technically exquisite player, he was never a flashy player who played in a fashion that truly caught the eye, unless you're a perfectionist. However, he was always in the runs and we just accepted that he was good for those runs at three or four. So great was he that we knew he would take us from 30-3 to 140-4 as a rule, or regularly broke partnerships while resting our top ranked bowlers from their spells, we just accepted it as a given and he delivered most, if not all the time. He will always be remembered as the unfailing contributor who had a major part in keeping South Africa at either rank one, two or three in all formats for 18 years. In tributes by Amla, AB and Smith they signaled him out as the inspiration for taking their averages above 50 as they wanted to raise their level to his. He might not be a Sir Jacques Kallis, but his record will remain debated, admired and envied long after we're all gone. Only matched and compared to one other.

Posted by AltafPatel on (January 11, 2014, 16:51 GMT)

Notable thing about his greatness is he played in era of McGrath, Warne, Ambrose, Walsh, Lee, Murali etc.

Posted by rjansen on (January 10, 2014, 15:14 GMT)

The numbers in my analysis speak for themselves.

Averages are certainly not the be-all and end all, but Kallis was clearly one of the greatest batsmen ever.

Ponting had a golden period, but for Kallis kept his standards high for much longer.

Tendulkar was also a great talent, and starting at 16 has amassed 15000 tests runs which will surely never be beaten.

Posted by rjansen on (January 10, 2014, 15:04 GMT)

-----12000 Runs:-----

1) Kallis 61.49

2) Tendulkar 58.34

3) Ponting 55.82

4) Dravid 53.87

-----10000 Runs-----

10000 Runs 1) Kallis 64.77

2) Ponting 59.90

3) Tendulkar 59.30

4) Sangakarra 59.05

5) Dravid 54.99

6) Lara 54.98

7) S Waugh 54.73

8) Border 52.48

9) Chanderpaul 52.32

10) Jayawardene 51.50

-----8000 Runs-----

1) Ponting 66.36

2) Kallis 64.90

3) Sangakarra 63.17

4) Tendulkar 62.13

5) Dravid 60.61

6) Chanderpaul 58.61

7) S Waugh 58.33

8) Jayawardene 58.24

9) Sobers 57.68

10) Hayden 56.10

-----6000 Runs-----

1) Bradman 103.78

2) Ponting 75.05

3) Kallis 71.69

4) Sobers 69.02

5) Sangakarra 67.88

6) Dravid 66.05

7) Tendulkar 64.99

8) Chanderpaul 62.36

9) Yousuf 62.06

10) S Waugh 60.58

-----4000 Runs-----

1) Bradman 102.82

2) Kallis 74.89

3) Sangakarra 74.87

4) Ponting 74.45

5) Hayden 72.33

6) Dravid 70.96

7) Sobers 70.95

8) Chanderpaul 70.68

9) Tendulkar 70.02

10) Lara 68.72

Posted by rjansen on (January 10, 2014, 15:03 GMT)

So, it seems to me fair to compare great periods in a career. If Bradman had become blind in one eye and made 60 ducks in a row we would still call him one of the greatest ever even though his average would be "only" 53.

In the next comment, I have calculated the highest average for a career period, irrespective of when this period takes place. (It involved long Excel and Matlab calculations!)

Only batsmen with more than 7500 runs are considered, although I have added Sobers and Bradman for interest's sake.


Check the full lists in next comment:


Posted by Bowlersholding on (January 10, 2014, 11:51 GMT)

@Rob Steen Your last paragraph is one of the most accurate and personally moving I have ever read wrt to cricket. We will miss you always JK.

@Steven Charie Agree with your sentiments, especially 'His orthodox methods, perfect technique and understated personality blinded some, but not those who know greatness when they see it.'

Posted by Kingman75 on (January 10, 2014, 9:50 GMT)

@joecar, you should stop thinking. That argument makes no sense.

Posted by Joe-car on (January 10, 2014, 9:25 GMT)

@NBZ1___the reason I think batting all-rounder are held in higher regard to bowling all-rounders is that it's harder to score runs against quality bowling than it is to pick up wickets against quality batting. For instance: a poor/false stroke from a batsman can only fetch a batsman a maximum of 6 runs(and runs the risk of losing his wicket) while a poor ball from a bowler can fetch him a wicket. I know what you're thinking now. ''Well, that's the same thing, isn't it''. Well, not quite. Say a batsman plays four false shots in an innings, gets out to one and makes 60. Then a bowler bowls, say 10 poor balls, picks up 4 wickets and gets 4-60 in an innings. So, in your opinion, which looks better, a batting average of 60 or a bowling average of 15?

Posted by 1ofakind_testcricket on (January 10, 2014, 2:30 GMT)

Comparisons between great players of different eras is a difficult if not impossible and unnecessary task. We can appreciate these great players for the boundaries they have pushed within themselves, for the fact that they have managed to get the absolute maximum from their potential, there is no question they have given their all, given their life to their passion, and they are special. They come from different backgrounds, have different natural abilities, they have lived very different lives. A freewheeling entertainer from a semi professional era that celebrated the amateur and the art of cricket cannot be compared to the ultimate team man and professional who was the best in the world at his job. How would one have played in another era cannot be answered but we can appreciate that nothing was left on the table and they achieved all that they possibly could and then some more.

Posted by NBZ1 on (January 10, 2014, 1:45 GMT)

I do agree with Sarathc90's earlier point, that usual statistics for judging all-rounders are biased towards batting all-rounders. This is because the range of batting averages for good batsmen (35-60) is greater than that for good bowlers (20-35). Example: suppose we take Player 1, a great batsman (with an average of 60) who is also a very good bowler (average of 30). And then we take Player 2, a great bowler (average of 20) who is also a very good batsman (average of 40). The two probably have similar value as all-rounders. But, taking the differentials between the averages, Player 1's score is +30 whereas Player 2's score is +20!

There is actually a simple solution: divide the batting average by the bowling average. Then what you get is: Sobers (1.70), Kallis (1.70), Imran (1.65), Miller (1.61) Pollock (1.40), Hadlee (1.22), Botham (1.18), Kapil (1.05)

So I think it's clear that Sobers, Kallis, Imran and Miller are ahead of the rest, but there is little to choose between them.

Posted by Jimmyvida on (January 9, 2014, 22:48 GMT)

Sobers is the best #6 batsman the world has ever seen. Lets take a current example. Bell bats at #5 for England. When he comes out he looks regal and devastating. In the last ashes test he was sent in at #3. He looked like a fish out of water.

Posted by peter56 on (January 9, 2014, 21:56 GMT)

rjansen I am not a bored statistician but the thing here is the time span. so compare over a 14 year period, as you have done, and, lo and behold between 1958 and 1972 Garry Sobers never missed a test and averaged 64.38 .So yet again Sobers trumps kallis statistically .Actually I have take complete years, as you should have done for Kallis, so from 1998 until 2012 the Kallis average is down to 58.46.and remember JHK had much better wickets to bat on....Man of the match awards were only introduced in the 1980's. somebody said on cricinfo last year that if it was not for the stats nobody would have mentioned JHK as a great all rounder.Kallis only became one of wisdens 5 cricketers in 2013.When a retrospective was done by wisden of the cricketer of the year from1900 to 2013 Sobers was cricketer of the year 9 times Kallis once Says it all really

Posted by peter56 on (January 9, 2014, 21:19 GMT)

BradmanBestEver on (January 8, 2014, 13:31 GMT)

'Clearly the best batsman of the past 25 years. He averaged about the same as Lara, Ponting and Tendukar - But most importantly, he achieved his batting record mainly playing in the most difficult No.3 position' 'WRONG way wrong Kallis only averaged 49 at no.3.Check Kallis's terrible record in 5 world cups compare it to any of those 3 you mention and you will see that when you do that he is clearly NOT the best batsman of the last 25 years

Posted by Venkatb on (January 9, 2014, 20:04 GMT)

Just as how Barrington would not be ranked higher than a Hutton or a Tendulkar merely because of a better batting average, I would rank Gary Sobers way ahead of Kallis - in fact, I would rank Imran Khan ahead of Kallis as well. Kallis had the luxury of at least 3 weak teams - Zimbabwe, WI and Bangladesh - remove those teams from the equation, and his average goes below 50 while his bowling average shoots up. I have seen Sobers bat, and there was little he could not do - extraordinary batting, bowling or fielding. For Imran Khan I would bisect his career into two - pre-81 when he half-tried - he could bat a little and bowl a little, much like his Pakistan teammates (Majid, Asif, Mushtaq, Intikab, Miandad) - post-81, his "differential" was 30+ (batting @ 50+ and bowling of 20+), something even Sobers never could boast. And this was when he was almost a part-time bowler on the team. But when he bowled, he was non-paraliel - genuine pace matching the WI greats, and fearless batting.

Posted by BillyCC on (January 9, 2014, 20:00 GMT)

@Sarathc90, there comes a point when longevity does not matter. I think that point is definitely reached when someone plays 160 tests vs 200 tests. Regardless, Tendulkar gets a big tick for performing very well when he was young, but a big cross for performing very poorly at the back end of his career. The modern comparison and gold standard is Chanderpaul who is still producing and is the best in his side at the age of 39. Bradman at the age of 40 averaged 73 in his last tour and over 100 at the age of 38. Longevity is all well and good, but you still have to produce.

Posted by BillyCC on (January 9, 2014, 18:45 GMT)

@peter56, really well said.

Posted by peter56 on (January 9, 2014, 18:40 GMT)

cont) in 1966 another legendary veteran EW Swanton had done the unheard of and taken Cardus to task,saying he was out of his mind and 'talking through his hat' if he thought there had ever been an all-rounder as good as Sobers.This is the crux of the issue If some of Sobers contemporaries were coming forward now, and saying that they had changed their minds, and that Kallis was as good as Sobers , then i would sit up and take notice,but there is not one !! When the topic was raised a couple of years back Ian Chappell said 'Sobers is as far ahead of the next best all-rounder as Bradman is as far ahead of the next best batsman' Sobers was a 7 in one ALL-ROUNDER,Kallis is a 3 in one ALL-ROUNDER. to the great Dennis Compton and,Sir Len Hutton he was the greatest ALL-ROUND bowler of all time great in 3 different styles.thats why his strike rate was as high as 91.Try juggling 3 different styles of bowling its 3 times more difficult than being able to concentrate on one style only

Posted by peter56 on (January 9, 2014, 17:39 GMT)

This comparison betweeen Kallis and sobers is an inter-generational thing .All the people on here and elsewhere claiming Kallis is as good as Sobers, have as Mike Selvey said: 'Obviously not seen Sobers Play'.Nobody who has seen both play has come out and said that Kallis is as good as Sobers.The Saffas are every bit as eagar to push one of their own as much as the Indians and us English,and yet the silence is deafening, Ask Graeme Pollock or Mike Proctor as to who is the greatest all- rounder ever and both will reply Sobers.Ask any contemporary of Sobers from any country who was the best and they will all reply sobers .In the nineteen sixties even the most biased experts changed there opinion and said that Sobers was better than the person that they had previously held up to be the best,whether that was Hammond,Miller,Wooley,or Rhodes.the last person to hold out was the legendary Neville Cardus 'Yer sobers pants in vain after Rhodes' but by 1970 even he had changed his mind (cont)

Posted by harshthakor on (January 9, 2014, 17:19 GMT)

One valid criticism against Kallis is that he often did not force the pace sufficiently to win games.Neverthless he amassed about 45% of his total run aggregate in matches won and was the ultimate champion in match-saving causes.

Some experts do not place Kallis above Imran.Botham,Keith Miller and Kapil Dev because he did not silmuntaneously excell with both bat and ball in the same matches or series .They forget that Imran was mainly a great fast bowler who became a very fine batsmen late in his career.Kallis also opened the bowling in a formidable bowling attack and swung the course of his games in some games with the ball.Playing for a team with such a great pace bowling attack deprived Kallis of playing a major role as a bowler.Never forget how modern wickets hardly assist bowlers .In his peak period Kallis was outstanding with both bat and ball and would have outplayed Imran,Hadlee,Botham and Kapil had he played in the 1980's.The game has lost a legend.

Posted by harshthakor on (January 9, 2014, 17:08 GMT)

I rate Jacques Kallis 2nd only to the great Gary Sobers as an all-rounder.Though Kallis is statistically the best of all all-rounders he did not poessess Gary Sober's flamboyance with the bat and versatility with the ball.Afterall cricket is also based on flair or artistry and not mere statistics.Neverthless although not as charismatic as Ian Botham,Imran Khan or Kapil Dev Kallis outclassed them all as an all-rounder.True he may not have posessed Ian Botham's all-round match-winning flair at his best or equalled Imran Khan overall as a match-winner or been as much as an entertainer as Kapil Dev,but his consistency surpassed them all.What counted against Kallis was that he excelled with ball and bat at different periods but remember the 2 times he took 5 wickets and scored a century in a test match and his sterling all-round performance in a series against West Indies in 1998.

Kallis to me ranks amongst the 10 best cricketers of all and arguably the most under-rated.

Posted by Sarathc90 on (January 9, 2014, 17:03 GMT)

Sorry for turning this into a Kallis-Tendulkar slugfest. Sticking to the content of the article, are Miller and Imran Khan not allrounders rivaling the stature of Kallis and Sobers?

Posted by Sarathc90 on (January 9, 2014, 17:00 GMT)

I was only trying to give some weightage to longevity. If you are thrown into the cauldron of test cricket at 16, your stats are bound to suffer. If you have a better method than mine, pls go ahead and use that. If longevity is not a factor at all, you might as well call Andy Ganteaume as the greatest batsman.

@Billycc 'At the end of the day' Tendulkar ended up as the highest run getter in Tests and ODIs.

Posted by pretoria on (January 9, 2014, 16:41 GMT)

I wonder how DRS would have affected Gary Sobers' averages? Surely, he would have been run out once or twice had this systhem been in operation during his playing years. Ditto stumpings. He might have had more wickets as the DRS favours spinners. We all know it was impossible for umpires to give run outs with the naked eye! We shall never know!.

Posted by BillyCC on (January 9, 2014, 16:12 GMT)

Typical flawed analysis from Cricfan24 and flawed support from Sarathc90. There's nothing special about the period 1990 to 1999. You'll find the stats between Waugh and Tendulkar converge if you take 1989 to 1998 for example with the same bowling greats playing in that decade as well. That's what you get when you try and cherry pick statistics. At the end of the day, Kallis finished on 55.37 and Tendulkar well back on 53.78. I bet there wouldn't be cherry picking by Tendulkar fans if he had a great last couple of years. Fact is he couldn't hack it and he suffers the consequences. Ponting had the same issue while Dravid was hot (in England) and cold (in Australia) in his final year or so.

Posted by rjansen on (January 9, 2014, 16:08 GMT)

@Sarathc90, you were the one trying to have it both ways with your stats.

In any case, my statement is quite clear - in the "meat" of his career, Kallis had one of the best records since Bradman. Over a 14 year period, 141 games, 12332 runs at an astonishing average of 61.04. (from 1 Jul 1998 to 22 Nov 2012).

Please feel free to find equivalent periods in other batsmen's careers, it would be interesting to see.

IN FACT, IF THERE ARE ANY BORED STATISTICIANS OUT THERE, this would be a stat worth looking at: Best 6000, 8000, 10 000 and best 12 000 run periods in careers. It don't know how to automatically get that out of Statsguru though.

Posted by Unomaas on (January 9, 2014, 15:55 GMT)

They don't call this game Kallisball for nothing!

For those confused by that statement, Kallis = Cricket = Kallisball.

There will never again be a more statistically accomplished all rounder like Kallis. In the next 20 years, the popularity of Test Cricket will decline and while the aussies and pom's will still be going at it in the Ashes, the volume of test matches played per year will decline until eventually it will be relegated to Marquee events played as a reminder of a bygone era. Knowing that, take a moment to realise that you were privileged to witness the career a great cricketer. He will be like Bradman...statistically untouchable.

Posted by Sarathc90 on (January 9, 2014, 15:25 GMT)

@NBZ1 I wasn't trying to pull a fast one. I thought i made it clear i tried to pick Tendulkar's best 166 chunk. I was simply trying to compare Kallis's best 166 matches with Tendulkar's 166. @rjansen When you take Kallis's best 14 years, i think you should take Tendulkar's best 14 years also and not 18.

I agree that many don't like this kind of comparison. In that case, you have to give some weightage to longevity. It is accepted that average tends to fall the longer you play. You can't have it both ways.

If you want to take stats out of the picture and compare players, go ahead. Only don't quote averages in that case.

Posted by rjansen on (January 9, 2014, 14:59 GMT)

@Sarathc90, it is slightly unfair to take out Tendulkar's "bad" tests and then compare to Kallis full career (including his slow start). If you want to take longevity out of it, you should also look at Kallis most productive period: Over a 14 year period, 141 games, 12332 runs at an astonishing average of 61.04. (from 1 Jul 1998 to 22 Nov 2012)

Posted by NBZ1 on (January 9, 2014, 14:54 GMT)

@Sarathc90: That is about as flawed a comparison as you can make. You are comparing Kallis's entire career with Tendulkar's career minus the first few Tests and the last few Tests - which are precisely the Tests when every batsman struggles!

I wondered why you took out Tendulkar's 1st 12 Tests and last 22 Tests: why such a precise combination instead of, let's say, 17 Tests either way. Then I looked at Tendulkar's career stats: he made his last century in his 177th Test, and since then his average has steadily declined. So of course the way to boost his average is to "ignore" those Tests altogether.

As they say, there are lies, damned lies and statistics.

Posted by Sarathc90 on (January 9, 2014, 14:22 GMT)

@CricFan24 I think the average of 59.6 in 90's when the next best was 52 is a very pertinent one. Tendulkar was at his best in 90's and also the bowling standards across the world were exceptionally high. In contrast, 2000's was a torrid decade for bowlers and one of the best for batters in the history of cricket.

As far as Kallis and Tendulkar comparison, i tried to take longevity out of the equation.

Tendulkar's best 166 match streak produced 14127 runs at an avg of 58.13. For Kallis it is 13289@55.37. Keeping the number of months played constant(@216.5), Tendulkar scored 14081 runs@58.42 in contrast to Kallis's 13289@55.37.

p.s The matches chosen for Tendulkar do not necessarily represent his best 166 streak. I have simply removed his 1st 12 matches and last 22. However, the difference if any is likely to be miniscule. Similarly for the best 216.5 months streak, i have simply removed his first 12 matches and his last 23. 166 is Kallis's total matches & 216.5 his total months.

Posted by Sarathc90 on (January 9, 2014, 13:43 GMT)

For all those who is insist that Kallis was in a league of one as far as statistics are concerned, let me try and provide some perspective.

Kallis's batting average was 47% and 49% better than Imran Khan and Keith Miller. Imran Khan's bowling average was 43% better than Kallis and Miller's 42% better than Kallis's.

So, it is fair to say there are at least 2 players comparable to Kallis. The bias is obviously because Kallis is a batting allrounder and the others are bowling allrounders.

As for as Sobers is concerned, Sobers batting average is 4% better than Kallis's and Kallis's bowlers average is 4% better than Sober's.

Bringing some subjectivity into the discussion, i would venture to say that Imran Khan, Sobers and Miller all were more indispensable to their respective teams than Kallis was.

Kallis is a great great player and there is absolutely no need to resort to hyperbole to glorify him. As far as batting is concerned, in my opinion, Tendulkar, Lara and Ponting were better.

Posted by Pot_Blou_Gevaar on (January 9, 2014, 13:18 GMT)

Call me a newby when it comes to having watched test cricket (25-odd years), but I've seen some gems playing the game. Batters like Lara, Waugh, Inzamam, Aravinda, Sachin, Dravid, Jayawardene, Ponting, Gibbs etc., quality pace-men like Ambrose, Donald, Akram, Waqar, Walsh, Lee, Pollock, McGrath. Beguiling spin by Warne, Kumble, AJ Jadeja, Murali. The odd steady journey-men like Freddy Flintoff, Javagal Srinath, Carl Hooper, Andy Flower, Andrew Hudson, Michael Vaughn, Marvan Atapattu. How about that Jonty Rhodes at point, ask Inzamam

For overall team value, no-one comes close to Jacques Kallis. No-one! 22 MOM's, get out of here. I haven't been fortunate enough to see Sobers play, but I'll concur that a lot of fans who's passed on was quite unlucky to not have seen Kallis playing cricket. That's that, batsmen bat, bowlers bowl, fielders field. Kallis = cricket. Take a bow great man……….

Posted by   on (January 9, 2014, 12:45 GMT)

There will never be someone like kallis. he is the complete cricketer. Best the world has ever seen. when the man contributes in all dept in the game, he has to be ultimate god of the game. yet people say he is slow and boring. i dont understand this because he has to do role as batsman, bowler, slip fielder, vice captain and naturally he will lose energy performing all the roles. He is still a superhuman to bat so long and bowl and field for so long. i have hardly seen him go out of the park during game due to injuries or fatigue. he is the second highest catchers in test. he has got this feat even though he bowls his quotas of overs. think how many more catches would he have taken if he didnt bowl or how many more wkts he would have taken if not given the burden of fielding in slips with anticipation of each bowl edging toward him. Which other cricketers in top 3 run getters has such feat. hence one should not judge him to others on the basis of batting strike rate and so on.

Posted by Kingman75 on (January 9, 2014, 11:11 GMT)

@cricfan24, a desperate attempt to make up facts.

Posted by Pradeepmani007 on (January 9, 2014, 9:51 GMT)

Man of the match awards are generally given for winning team,if i am right,those 22 Man of the match awards,speaks on his behalf.

Posted by CricFan24 on (January 9, 2014, 9:47 GMT)

@Kingman75- Slight difference between attempt and fact.Tendulkar's achievements will stand the test of time . Infact, like Bradman, they will be appreciated more (odd thought his may sound) and become more monumental as time goes by- and no player even approaches them.

A batsman who gets even close to 34000 International runs with a 100 Hundreds and maintains the performance over a Quarter of a century against all comers - nevermind actually equalling or surpassing this - Will make the batsman be regarded as an all-time "Great".

And the longevity is only just a part of it. Through the 1990s, for batsmen who played right through the 1990s ,and minus minnows Ban/Zim Tendulkar avg.59.6. The next best was Steve Waugh with 52. This differential of around 15% between best and next-best is the highest ever for any batsman barring Bradman for an entire decade. Again - it is Minus minnows.

At the end of the day, whether you like it or not - We have just lived through the "Tendulkar era"

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (January 9, 2014, 9:37 GMT)

From a pure Batting perspective - Kallis is a better batsman than Tendulkar, his average is higher and he scored more of his runs on difficult South African tracks rather than dead flat tracks. The bulk of Sachins runs are in the subcontinent.

Most Kallis career was spent trying to rebuild the batting innings as the majority of team mate test batsmen around him (except Kirsten) were non Top 10 batsmen and failed more often than not. Compare this to Tendulkar who had Dravid and VVS around him most this career.

Then you throw in the Catches and Wickets - its just amazing what he has achieved.

Posted by srikanths on (January 9, 2014, 8:45 GMT)

If Tendulkar and Lara were the best batsmen of the eras ( difficult to seperate them , though in terns of sheer consistency oevr longer periods, SRT may have the edge , in terms of sher thrill Lara will have the edge ), Kallis was undoubtedly the best cricketer. Sobers had greater flair may be but for sheer dependability , Kallis was as good as Sobers if not better

Posted by Kingman75 on (January 9, 2014, 7:25 GMT)

@cricfan24, haha a desperate act to draw attention to someone that no one cares about and whose legacy has already been overshadowed just three months in.

Posted by   on (January 9, 2014, 7:23 GMT)

@raghav355 Are you serious is that a joke what about Mitchell Johnson. He was dropped from the Australian side at least twice. A goodish all rounder at best. Jacques Kallis got over 13000 runs alone and his 290 wickets. You must be joking because your question is ridiculous.

Posted by Kingman75 on (January 9, 2014, 7:20 GMT)

Kallis was pretty boring. Lacked match winning ability. I can't remember any great innings or great hauls, maybe a couple against Bangladesh

Posted by diri on (January 9, 2014, 5:43 GMT)

The greatest cricketer of all time..King Kallis. Better than Sachin, ponting and Lara because he was 3 players in 1. Everytime SA came on to the field they had an advantage because of the Kallis factor. To the people who say he wasnt a match winner, well I disagree because he won man matches for SA with bat or.... ball. Thats what made him so great. To me Kallis is the most valuable player the world has seen...MVP ...King Kallis

Posted by   on (January 9, 2014, 5:42 GMT)

kallis was very selfish..he hasn't won many maches for S.A..he just scored as he wished..the last test innings is a prime example..he took 300+ deliveries for his 100 on a flat durban pitch and against mediocre indian bowlers allhe wanted in that innings was a matter how usefulwas that for the team..that match could have easily ended in a draw if not for some poor indian bating and the brilliance of steyn

Posted by Phat-Boy on (January 9, 2014, 5:35 GMT)

Little Aussie Battler.

As a player who hit 22 centuries in Test victories - including their most recent - yes he was.

The amount of lunacy to escape Chappell's mouth over the years - mixed in with some stark truths at times - is phenomenal.

How you could label Kallis as selfish is anyone's guess. For his entire career pre-2007, Kallis was surrounded by strokeplayers who couldn't perform with enough consistency to help their brilliant bowlers consistently thrive. Kirsten was the exception. But dashers like Gibbs, Cullinan, Cronje etc through the first half of his career - McKenzie and Dippenaar are others - meant that Kallis was mounting mission after mission to save his side. In the current team with Smith, Amla, ABDV, Du Plessis etc who can all both bat time and score freely, Kallis has been relieved of that burden and it has been plain for all to see as he he has become a more free-scoring player. It just showed what he could have been in a better side.

Posted by highveldhillbilly on (January 9, 2014, 5:34 GMT)

@Little_Aussie_Battle - if you listen to everything the Chappell brothers say about cricket you will have a very jaded and lopsided view of cricket! You ask if he was a match winner - read the article: 22 man of the match awards - more than any other player in the history of cricket. I think you need to reassess your question.

Posted by adrianf on (January 9, 2014, 5:26 GMT)

Little ausie battler - I would say that that 23 test man of match awards speaks for itself! More than anyone else, ever!

Posted by CricFan24 on (January 9, 2014, 4:23 GMT)

With all due respect to the Kalliss', Laras,Dravids ,Waughs and Pontings (among others) - The just concluded era has been defined by Sachin Tendulkar and will forever be remember as the "Tendulkar era".

Posted by HenkS on (January 9, 2014, 4:18 GMT)

I think we must consider Kallis an allrounder in the true sense of the word and not just as a batsman that could bat. The true criteria of an allrounder is 1) that he would make the test team as an batsman and as a bowler 2) a higher batting average than a bowling average. Although Kallis would not have been chosen as a bowler only for last part of his career, for a large part of his career he was integral part of the bowling attack. In 2003 he was rated as high as no 6 in the test bowling rankings and his bowling rating would have presently placed him under the top 8 (above players like Johnson and Anderson) And a good test rating is the result of good sustained performance over a long period of time. Can we then deny that Kallis was also a test class bowler (and a true allrounder)

Posted by   on (January 9, 2014, 2:59 GMT)

true to every word u have said. especially those last few lines hits the bottomline of his uniqueness in his greateness. there is no doubt that kallis is the greatest cricketer ever.

Posted by outforhatrick on (January 9, 2014, 0:55 GMT)

great player in all forms... Wonderful test record..if at all any blemish in his career is he was never seen as someone who will run away with a match on his day .. Say like Gibbs..

Posted by   on (January 9, 2014, 0:32 GMT)

Any mention of Richard Hadlee in this? Though his batting average was not as high as it should have been, it was hugely important to NZ..especially as it improved as he got older and wiser! I would have thought he would have got a mention.

Posted by GermanPlayer on (January 8, 2014, 23:05 GMT)

People are forgetting that at the start of his career, Kallis was a rare breed of Swing bowlers in South Africa. He lost that swing later in his career but it was that swing that made him the first change bowler. The wickets he got in the later part of his career were down to experience as a bowler instead of that curve he had at the beginning.

Posted by Little_Aussie_Battler on (January 8, 2014, 23:02 GMT)

The number one Australian cricket commentator and legendary Aussie skipper Ian Chappell called Jacques Kallis one of the most selfish players he has ever seen.

We just need some balance in these types of articles and not this conga line or echo chamber of back slappers.

He was a good player, but was he a match winner?

Posted by frankc1974 on (January 8, 2014, 22:09 GMT)

Reading some of the comments indicates how under-rated Kallis is. Apparently he is an "accomplished batsmen but not in the league of Richards, Lara, Dravid and Tendulkar". According to the article, his record is superior to all the moderns except Sangakkara (whose average is helped a lot by playing the minnows).

If Kallis has a failing it is his lack of flair compared to a Richards, Lara or Tendulkar. In my view, it is this 'failing' which results in him being under-rated.

Personally, while his record across all formats places him at the summit of the current generation of players, it is his team-first approach which is his greatest attribute.

Posted by frankc1974 on (January 8, 2014, 21:58 GMT)

Jacque Kallis is the greatest cricketer of this generation. I place him above Ponting, Tendulkar, Lara on the basis of his career overall. What a magnificent player and ambassador for the game - his record speaks for itself.

Posted by rsafant on (January 8, 2014, 21:35 GMT)

I've watched Kallis since the 90s and I always felt he was underrated as an attacking player. He could play any stroke in the book, including aerial shots that looked pleasing (not just T20 style baseball hitting). Somehow he got pegged as an accumulator, especially since he liked to score big in a relatively risk-free manner. There's too much type-casting going on in cricket, especially from commentators. I consider Kallis way more attacking than Dravid for instance. In terms of bowling, does anyone remember his fast outswing bowling from late 90s? He could bowl mid to high 130s with great outswing shape and take wickets. After he switched to a more economical bowling action, he started to look more like a containing bowler. Otherwise he could easily have more wickets in my opinion. Kallis was a complete player, and at least he has the statistics to his name, if not the stardom.

Posted by Protea_fan01 on (January 8, 2014, 20:52 GMT)

Do SA cricketers get knited titles. Just thought Sir Jacques Henry Kallis sounds pretty catchy! :)

Posted by raghav355 on (January 8, 2014, 20:36 GMT)

But Rob, what about Mitchell Johnson?

Posted by Tvaranitra on (January 8, 2014, 19:45 GMT)

Kallis is definitely one of the greatest cricketers the world has seen and especially playing and excelling in all forms of cricket which is very demanding. I believe we should not do comparisons with Sir Sobers sincethey played in different eras and match situations/tactics are very different.

But for argument sake...From my vantage point Sir Sobers will be rated much higher. My analogy, think about how useful Sir Sobers would be to a captain when playing on different tracks, he can be a useful spinner/pace bowler versus Kallis who is a fast medium bowler and mostly helpful in conditions favorable to fast bowling. (No discount to Kallis, personally he's one of my favorite cricketers) Also, Sir Sobers batted at #6 vs Kalis at #3 or 4 and scored great number of runs and think of different hats that Sobers put on during his career... Again, we should not be comparing these greatest cricketers of all time and let's celebrate the joy they have given to cricket lovers across the world.

Posted by   on (January 8, 2014, 19:16 GMT)

To one of the greatest cricketers, King Kallis, a worthy tribute. Just a small note, as a South African, the India shortened tour left a bitter pill for many. Added to this is that its not the end for Kallis. Hopefully there is still that elusive world cup medal. So for many who did not attend, including myself, we know that there still a few chapters left in the great mans career. Its just sad that Kallis didn't go for the 300 wickets against the Australians as I think they night be back at there best. 300 wickets would certainly never be accomplished where one scored 13000 runs and took 300 wickets. Although, I'm pretty sure he'll do it in the one dayers.

Posted by Theoden on (January 8, 2014, 19:09 GMT)

In my humble opinion, Kallis as a batsman who could bowl and was given opportunity by his captains to bowl regularly. He took 292 wickets in 166 tests. That is 1.75 wickets per test and .88 wicket per inning. He was an accomplished batsman (not in the league of Richards, Tendulkar, Lara and Dravid) but not an all rounder. Sobers, Imran Khan, Ian Botham, Kapil Dev, Richard Hadlee were true and genuine all rounders. Kallis should not be counted among them.

Posted by StaalBurgher on (January 8, 2014, 19:08 GMT)

Gary Sobers had a strike rate of 92. That is shockingly bad especially in an era that was "good for bowling".

And it is absolutely rubbish that Kallis is not an all rounder. Other all rounders bat at 6 and are marginal. Kallis batted at 3-4 and he was 1st change bowler for many years. If he bowled less it was just because they had the convenience to manage his workload.

Kallis IS AN ALL ROUNDER because he would've been selected as a bowler up to age 30-32.

Posted by   on (January 8, 2014, 18:23 GMT)

There is no match for Kallis at the moment, But we can be hopeful Mathews will follow same way or may surpass Kallis with his batting , bowling , fielding and captaincy

Posted by stormy16 on (January 8, 2014, 18:22 GMT)

Finally an article that addresses the reality - Kallis is a once in a lifetime and probably the greatest cricker of all time. In the begining there was the Don and then Sobers and then the dalylight and then the rest. No one even came close to the Don and Sobers. Since then, Sachin has proabably entered the frame of Don but no one has even got close to Sobers who has been without a shadow of a doubt been the greatest cricket (not just batter Don and Sachin fans). The Bothams, Hadlees, Imrans and Dev's were merely worthy mentions in this league untill Kallis came along and not matched Sobers, but in my opinion went ahead to be the undisputed altime greatest cricketer of all time.

Posted by   on (January 8, 2014, 18:13 GMT)

Kallis is truly a great player proud to have watched your last innings . I hope you continue to ply ur trade in ipl treat to watch

Posted by M_Rakibul_Islam on (January 8, 2014, 18:13 GMT)

There's no need to debate. Kallis is the best right-hand all rounder & Sobers is the best left-hand all-rounder of all time! :) Btw, if we predict the next great all-rounder (not necessarily as great as Kallis or Sobers) of Test cricket, he can b Aswin or Jadeja. Shakib won't b there as his team will play very few no. of test matches according to FTP. But if we consider all 3 formats, Shakib is the best all-rounder in post-Kallis era.

Posted by   on (January 8, 2014, 15:51 GMT)

A good observation that great players have retired in clusters. But the list misses the great leg spinners Warne and Kumble.

Posted by   on (January 8, 2014, 15:42 GMT)

kallis surly is one of the best of all times, a true legend, i rate him more useful cricketer than lara,ponting,sachin and dravid, although lara,ponting and sachin are better batsmen than him. but as a cricketer he is in sobers class. i think top 20 cricketers of all time are as follows. 1) sir bradman the greatest, 2) sobers and kallis, 4) sachin and murli, 6)lara and warne, 8) imran khan, 9) sir viv richard, 10) lille, marshal, styen,wasim, mcgrath, 15)ponting, 16) gavaskar, 17) hutton,hobbs,hummand,20)border. These r my top 20 of all times after i have analyzed over 1000 cricketers records. kallis have a record over 20 man of the match awards in test cricket which i think is very very difficult to beat.

Posted by   on (January 8, 2014, 15:30 GMT)

What an article! The last paragraph is simply out of this world. These two lines, simply sums up everything,

"Never again will caution breed greatness. Never again will a sporting superstar enjoy the delights of a low profile."

What a man Kallis is, and what writer Rob Steen is!. Still, I agree with Andre Martin that Lara should have been mentioned too as he's one of the greatest cricketers of all times. I hope this miss is due to an oversight.

Posted by   on (January 8, 2014, 15:03 GMT)

Would have been embraced as an international legend of he was born in India or Oz. A truly remarkable sportsman.

Posted by BellCurve on (January 8, 2014, 15:00 GMT)

I agree that Jadeja, Ashin and Shakib are all-rounders to watch over the next 10 years. However, I would like to add Philander to that list. In 2013 he averaged 18 with the ball and 28 with the bat. I would expect that over the next 5 years, both those numbers would increase be around 5-10 runs.

Posted by   on (January 8, 2014, 14:59 GMT)

Let all arguments cease. Jaques Kallis is the greatest cricketer this world has seen along with Sir Gary Sobers and Sir Don Bradman. Kallis' record has put into proper perspective the achievements of the likes of Sachin, Ponting and Lara. That he was as good if not better batsman as all of them and also managed to get 300 odd test and 200 odd ODI wickets is simply mind boggling. The others records, however great they may have been ( no offense meant to anyone of them), just pales into comparison. Hats off to Kallis.

Posted by   on (January 8, 2014, 14:55 GMT)

Agreed...The Greatest Batsman of this Generation Brain Charles Lara's name should have been included in the list of the players retiring....Nevertheless a great article...

Posted by   on (January 8, 2014, 14:03 GMT)

The first class and List A match totals shown on the players profiles include the international matches. First Class: Sobers 383 matches, Kallis 257 matches. List A: Sobers 95 matches, Kallis 421 matches (plus 134 T20). Overall Kallis played ~250 more innings but bowled ~30000 more deliveries

Posted by Thuram3 on (January 8, 2014, 14:01 GMT)

Fantastic, SA's best ever!!

Posted by   on (January 8, 2014, 13:55 GMT)

Rob, I think you do have to compare Kallis with Sobers. I liked the comment that "Sobers was a cavalier in an age of roundheads, whereas Kallis was a roundhead in an age of cavaliers". As you say, when you put the numbers together, they are astonishing. The first international game I watched live was the England v Rest of the World game in 1970 (when Sobers took 6-22 or so, then scored 183), and he was a truly astonishing batsman, which Kallis isn't*, but there's no player whose wicket was more valued (by himself or the opposition).

* to clarify this, Kallis is a great batsman, but doesn't take your breath away, which Sobers did.

Posted by BradmanBestEver on (January 8, 2014, 13:31 GMT)

Clearly the best batsman of the past 25 years.

He averaged about the same as Lara, Ponting and Tendukar - But most importantly, he achieved his batting record mainly playing in the most difficult No.3 position and while he was a leading contributor in the field with the ball and in the slips.

Posted by   on (January 8, 2014, 12:53 GMT)

@Brendon Kalill I was referring to the XI's they chose didn't you read the article at all?

Posted by   on (January 8, 2014, 4:28 GMT)

@andre marttin this article is about the greatest allrounders. thats why players like imran khan, kapil dev and shakib al hasan were mentioned. the only reason specialist batsman sangakarra was included coz hes the one of thr only ones to have a test average higher than kallis. brian lara does not fit in any of these categries.

Posted by   on (January 8, 2014, 4:26 GMT)

@andre martin this post is about the greatest allrounders. do you call brian lara an allroundet?

Posted by   on (January 8, 2014, 3:40 GMT)

This is so biased not a mention of the great Brian Lara such a disrespect. Indeed Kallis was great and had a stellar career. Never again lose your mind and forget Lara the great.

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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"

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