Kallis & Amla do it again
It is almost inevitable that a player who spends more than a decade in international cricket will break the odd record along the way and put together some notable statistics, but even so Jacques Kallis's list of achievements make particularly impressive reading. Kallis reached a 36th Test hundred in the course of his unbroken 242-run partnership with Hashim Amla, South Africa's second highest for any wicket against Pakistan, on the fourth day at Dubai.
At 35, Kallis is already South Africa's leading scorer in Test cricket by a margin of several thousand, but he believes he still has a lot more to give. "Hopefully there's a few more left in the body," he said. "I'm still enjoying my cricket, hopefully there's many more runs there."
He is third on the all-time list for most Test hundreds, with Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar the two men ahead of him with 39 and 49 hundreds respectively. Kallis has also been involved in no fewer than 15 double century partnerships in his career, three short of Tendulkar's record and is one better than the great Sir Donald Bradman.
His partnership with Amla was their fourth double century partnership - they shared stands of 220 and 330 against New Zealand in 2007-08 and 340 against India in the innings win at Nagpur earlier this year - a number that has only been exceeded by Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer's six.
"Hashim and myself got us off to a good start," Kallis said after the day's play. "Scoring was always going to be tough today, but we were always ahead of the rate. We complemented each other pretty well throughout the partnership. It became a little bit easier than we thought it would be, but it was still tough scoring. Batting and staying out there was a little easier, but scoring was quite tough.
"The wicket is pretty slow, the outfield is very slow as well, so you could add on a few runs for that. But we just tried to rotate the strike and put the bad ball away to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Then we could play with a bit more freedom once we got to a total that we were happy with."
Kallis hit his first delivery of the day from Saeed Ajmal for a straight six, and that set the tone for his and Amla's treatment of Pakistan's slow bowlers for the rest of the day. It had been thought that Pakistan's spinners - offspinner Ajmal and left-armer Abdur Rehman - could have a decisive influence of the game but they have been out-bowled by Johan Botha and Paul Harris, their South African counterparts.
"I think we played their spinners pretty well," Kallis explained. "Also, our spinners' lines are probably slightly different to what their spinners have bowled. And our guys are pretty confident. It's a lot easier and things seem to go for you when you're ahead of the game, so hopefully that'll continue happening for us. It's a happy changeroom, we've got some hard work ahead of us tomorrow but there's enough in the wicket to keep the bowlers encouraged."
Kallis also paid tribute to Amla, who is now only 6 runs short of his 1 000 Test runs for the calendar year. Amla reached a ninth century of the year in all formats, including four in Tests and five in ODIs, finishing unbeaten on 118.
"He's been unbelievable, he's certainly been our rock [this year]," Kallis said of Amla. "The way that the guys have batted around him has also helped. He's very confident, and he's come a long way from when people said 'with that backlift, you'll never be able to play international cricket.' I think he's proved a few people wrong.
"The wicket is a little flat, nothing special," said Amla. "Fortunately Jacques and I got a partnership going and that made it a lot easier to score. We have managed to get a few big partnerships together and today was one of them. At certain times when we weren't scoring Jacques was very level-headed and calm about it. He put a reality spin on certain situations which was great."
Amla added that there was no secret to his current phenomenal run of form, saying: "I wish I had a penny for the amount of times I've had that question asked over the last year or so. There has been no secret. I just try to bat the way I can, not try and change too much and keep things simple.
"I don't attribute it to anything special. I just try to gain as much experience in each game and fortunately it is coming through."