Kallis explains golf-shot celebration
Relief for a batsman is most often experienced when he plays a confidence-boosting knock after a lean patch. For Jacques Kallis, relief came when he scored a Test double-century because it was a first for him in over 15 years of playing international cricket.
"I'm relieved at not having to answer the question anymore," Kallis said at the end-of-day press conference in Centurion. He has been out between 150 and a double-century ten times in his career and there were always questions as to why he couldn't reach the elusive figure. He no longer needs to answer them. "It's a fantastic landmark and one that I have worked hard to achieve. It's good to have ticked that box."
On reaching the milestone, Kallis played a mock golf shot and explained it was because he will now be granted membership to the elite Leopard Creek golf club in Mpumalanga. "Johan Rupert phoned me in Abu Dhabi to promise me life-time membership at Leopard Creek if I got a double-hundred, so he's the first person I'm phoning now." Rupert is a billionaire and the owner of the course, a beauty on the southern border of the Kruger National Park.
Kallis was in an unusually chirpy mood after the innings and even commented on the peculiar subject of the sizeable crop of hair on his once receding hairline. "Too much bowling into the sun did that." He went on to provide fellow balding people with some advice for re-growth. "Take a bit of beer and manure and rub it on your forehead."
Kallis' knock was all the more impressive because it came against a highly-rated Indian side, in a contest billed as the clash between the world's best two Test teams. "I probably would have taken it against Bangladesh or Zimbabwe but to have done it against the world's best side is special."
The manner in which Kallis went about reaching the mark was so easy on the eye that it is puzzling why it took him so long to get there. It was expected that he would battle with a bit more nerves, but he remained the calm Kallis cricket-lovers have come to know and kept the butterflies firmly inside. After the first session on Saturday, he was on 182 and had to endure "probably the longest 40-minute lunch break of my life."
Luckily, he had a partner with the vision to guide him through to the double-ton. AB de Villiers smacked a century off 75 balls - the fastest in Test cricket by a South Africa batsman - in the morning and his positive attitude helped spur Kallis on. "It was fantastic and it took all the pressure off me. I could just knock the ball about. It was a privilege to watch it from the other end."
Kallis' usually unruffled demeanour gave way to uncharacteristically emphatic celebration, which showed just how much the achievement meant to him. He stood savouring the moment for a long time and dedicated it to his late father, Henry, who passed away from lung cancer in 2003. "It would have been nice for him to be able to see it, but hopefully he's watching it up there with my mom. I'll have a beer with him tonight." His father played a major role in influencing his career as a professional cricketer and his death has always been a private and sensitive matter for the batsman.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent