South Africa v India, 2nd Test, Durban, 3rd day December 28, 2013

Kallis thrives in his bubble

27

Kallis played the almost perfect innings - Petersen

Beyond the guard of honour, the handshakes, the hashtags and the heavy hearts, there was a Test to win. The most important person knew that. Jacques Kallis, who all the above gestures were for, blocked out the occasion and batted in his bubble. The same one many thought he had left when he announced his decision to retire from Test cricket. Kallis showed them he hadn't, because there was a job to be done.

He constructed an innings that Alviro Petersen described as being the antithesis of someone on the verge of the end. "You wouldn't say he was playing in his last Test match," Petersen said. In fact, because of its cautiousness, this knock was befitting of someone at the start of his career.

At first, the wariness was out of necessity. South Africa had lost Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla within six overs of each other, Ravindra Jadeja had found turn and India's seamers were searching for reverse swing. "Even before he faced a ball, there was a wicket," Petersen remembered. He was the man out, which meant Kallis was one of two new batsmen and, like he has often had to do, needed to provide South Africa with backbone.

With that responsibility, Kallis took 16 deliveries to score his first run. In that time, AB de Villiers got off the mark and Kallis got hit on the hand by Zaheer Khan. It wasn't a body blow like the one Dale Steyn gave Ajinkya Rahane on the second day. Neither was it a delivery that exposed Kallis' reactions, like the one he bowled to Ricky Ponting in Adelaide last year, which literally floored the Australian batsman.

Ponting had said he was "embarrassed" by that ball, so much so it confirmed in his mind that his time was up. Something similar could easily have happened to Kallis, which would have vindicated and even explained the reason for his retirement. There would have been proof to back up the whispering, a result of the number of times he has been lbw playing across the line recently, that his technique was waning. Kallis seemed to be consciously guarding against that. He concentrated on solid defence, for the team and himself.

Zaheer got the ball after the blow to the hand to bounce more but Kallis was prepared. He pushed the delivery behind point for his first run. Four overs later he had added only one more, when he changed tack. He charged Jadeja and lofted over mid-off for four, twice. The Kallis who could entertain had arrived.

De Villiers, as expected, played the more adventurous innings but Kallis grew in confidence too. He had not passed 40 in seven innings before this, stretching back to February, but as he spent time in the middle he brought out the sweep and the cut.

By lunch, de Villiers had overtaken Kallis and after the break Kallis needed to resettle again. He outside edged Mohammad Shami but with no slip in place, he was safe. It was only when the afternoon wore on that Kallis brought out the drive he has built his reputation on. He treated the crowd of 6900 to a couple against Zaheer, one off the back foot and one off the front, to enter the 40s.

For the next 46 deliveries, Kinsgmead waited as Kallis retreated further. In that time, de Villiers put in a dive that might have given him a painful grass burn to avoid being run-out, and was later dismissed. After what seemed an age, Kallis punched Jadeja through point and a misfield brought him his half-century.

There was a roar of appreciation, enthusiastic applause and for a moment, Kallis allowed himself to enjoy it. He removed his helmet and whirled around to acknowledge the crowd, which included his sister, and his smile spoke of satisfaction and relief. "With all the pressure of the last Test, he stood tall," Petersen said.

After that, Kallis stood firm once more, firmer than before. With India getting a fair amount of turn with the old ball, he focused on defence, and South Africa's run rate slowed dramatically after tea. In the 15.5 overs before bad light and drizzle stopped play, they scored only 32. Although the pitch may not have facilitated a run-rate of four an over, like South Africa had on day two, such a go-slow may not have been needed for survival.

Everybody noticed Kallis' introverted approach, including Mark Boucher who thought he looked "more focused than before." With Kallis in his zone, comparisons were drawn between this innings and his maiden Test century at the MCG 16 years ago.

It speaks of the consistency of the man that he can go out in a way that is eerily similar to the manner he came in. But there is a difference between what was needed in Melbourne in 1997 and Durban today. Then, there was a Test to be saved. Now, there is a series to be won.

Some are of the opinion that Kallis slowing down could have hurt South Africa's chances of winning. Others believe he has given them the platform to push for a result. Petersen believes Kallis played "the perfect innings for the situation we were in," but that his job was not done.

"If Jacques thought he could just cruise through his last Test match, he was wrong," Petersen joked. "We are really going to need him tomorrow."

It is the last time South Africa will be able to say that and know Kallis will be able to respond. That is still sinking in. "We haven't really thought about this Test team without Jacques Kallis. But lucky, it's not quite here for us yet," Petersen said. "We've got two more days to focus on." The most important person knows that.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on December 30, 2013, 1:10 GMT

    Kallis, statistically, was a freak and a deserving legend. But I don't think "The Kallis who could entertain" ever "arrived" in the 16 year International cricket career!

    Don't get me wrong but there were hardly more than a thousand people at the stadium (in South Africa) when the best all-round cricketer (statistically!!) scored his last century in his farewell match. He was boring, dull, colourless, unexciting, monotonous and yet pretty effective (as his stats show).

  • Tova on December 29, 2013, 10:06 GMT

    Looks to me that the Saffers are playing to ensure they don't lose this match before they worry about trying to win it.... Not surprising because that has always appeared to be there MO... They should have gone for the win in that first Test after getting so close, only to take the safety first option and shut up shop within sight of the victory... Must be frustrating for their supporters. I know, as an Aussie that we love that our team is always pushing for a win

  • Barnesy4444 on December 29, 2013, 9:28 GMT

    Kallis is an exceptional player. He took nearly 300 test wickets too. My only criticism of his game was he was one-paced when he batted, regardless of the game situation he batted at the same slow pace. He wouldn't take bowlers on, he wouldn't take charge.

    It's this way he scored his runs that means he will never be regarded as great as Tendulkar, Viv, Lara or Ponting. But let's not let that detract from what was an extraordinary all-round cricketer. Kallis had enormous concentration and focus.

  • Newlandsfaithful on December 29, 2013, 5:54 GMT

    Jacques will always be remembered as a great player and his retirement is sad, but the timing of the ending of his career is really his own fault. He made himself scarce in terms of selection and when he did play, his form was'nt exactly impressive. His recent stats haven't been pretty. I wish we could really know what was going on in Jacques head, because he could have continued if he really, really wanted to.

  • Phat-Boy on December 29, 2013, 4:54 GMT

    Some people just don't get cricket.

    Kallis' job is not to slam quick runs at the drop of a hat, never has been. Amla, Smith, Peterson and ABDV all score quickly. Hayden, Ponting, Gilchrist all bashed it when Steve Waugh was playing, Bell, Pietersen and Prior have always scored quickly with Alistair Cook in their side, Dravid had Sachin, Sehwag, Ganguly and Laxman around him. Players have roles. Kallis came in with his team having lost 3-10, after India lost their last 9 for 130 the day before. The pitch is clearly not great for batting on. His side has not lost a series in four years, they have lost two tests in three years - how irresponsible would it be if he got out trying to 'up the run rate' just to satisfy those who can't pay attention for two overs without seeing a boundary?

    He is batting his team into a position where they can build a lead of 150-200, and possibly roll India. Seriously when will people learn the difference between selfishness and intelligence.

  • on December 29, 2013, 4:42 GMT

    World of cricket is going to lose one more legend in test cricket and may be in ODIs next year. Test cricket will deprived from a classy cricketer.

  • srikanths on December 29, 2013, 4:16 GMT

    Kallis batted really well yesterday but based on this one can't come to the conclusion that he could have continued for a few more years. It has been quite clear that his reactions have got slower and he would struggle against a faster attack. Being a champion, he would have known it better than us. Tendulkar played atleast 8 test matches more than what he should have, it is good that Kallis is stopping short of that. Kallis may still be able to score against better attacks but would be nowhere near his past consistency.But if you ask whether he could have continued as an all rounder, he could have but a champion like him whose standards are very high would have preferred to go out rather than be amongst lesser mortals.

  • on December 29, 2013, 3:47 GMT

    Kaliis can easily play atleast 4 more years for test cricket and break tendulkar Runs record.

  • uksar on December 29, 2013, 3:27 GMT

    One aspect of his incompleteness as a cricketer is not captaining his country and I don't think it was in his hand tough.It's a huge surprise as well as disappointment to me.

  • Robster1 on December 29, 2013, 3:01 GMT

    King Kallis - reconsider please and retire from tests at your home ground Newlands after again beating the Aussies.

  • on December 30, 2013, 1:10 GMT

    Kallis, statistically, was a freak and a deserving legend. But I don't think "The Kallis who could entertain" ever "arrived" in the 16 year International cricket career!

    Don't get me wrong but there were hardly more than a thousand people at the stadium (in South Africa) when the best all-round cricketer (statistically!!) scored his last century in his farewell match. He was boring, dull, colourless, unexciting, monotonous and yet pretty effective (as his stats show).

  • Tova on December 29, 2013, 10:06 GMT

    Looks to me that the Saffers are playing to ensure they don't lose this match before they worry about trying to win it.... Not surprising because that has always appeared to be there MO... They should have gone for the win in that first Test after getting so close, only to take the safety first option and shut up shop within sight of the victory... Must be frustrating for their supporters. I know, as an Aussie that we love that our team is always pushing for a win

  • Barnesy4444 on December 29, 2013, 9:28 GMT

    Kallis is an exceptional player. He took nearly 300 test wickets too. My only criticism of his game was he was one-paced when he batted, regardless of the game situation he batted at the same slow pace. He wouldn't take bowlers on, he wouldn't take charge.

    It's this way he scored his runs that means he will never be regarded as great as Tendulkar, Viv, Lara or Ponting. But let's not let that detract from what was an extraordinary all-round cricketer. Kallis had enormous concentration and focus.

  • Newlandsfaithful on December 29, 2013, 5:54 GMT

    Jacques will always be remembered as a great player and his retirement is sad, but the timing of the ending of his career is really his own fault. He made himself scarce in terms of selection and when he did play, his form was'nt exactly impressive. His recent stats haven't been pretty. I wish we could really know what was going on in Jacques head, because he could have continued if he really, really wanted to.

  • Phat-Boy on December 29, 2013, 4:54 GMT

    Some people just don't get cricket.

    Kallis' job is not to slam quick runs at the drop of a hat, never has been. Amla, Smith, Peterson and ABDV all score quickly. Hayden, Ponting, Gilchrist all bashed it when Steve Waugh was playing, Bell, Pietersen and Prior have always scored quickly with Alistair Cook in their side, Dravid had Sachin, Sehwag, Ganguly and Laxman around him. Players have roles. Kallis came in with his team having lost 3-10, after India lost their last 9 for 130 the day before. The pitch is clearly not great for batting on. His side has not lost a series in four years, they have lost two tests in three years - how irresponsible would it be if he got out trying to 'up the run rate' just to satisfy those who can't pay attention for two overs without seeing a boundary?

    He is batting his team into a position where they can build a lead of 150-200, and possibly roll India. Seriously when will people learn the difference between selfishness and intelligence.

  • on December 29, 2013, 4:42 GMT

    World of cricket is going to lose one more legend in test cricket and may be in ODIs next year. Test cricket will deprived from a classy cricketer.

  • srikanths on December 29, 2013, 4:16 GMT

    Kallis batted really well yesterday but based on this one can't come to the conclusion that he could have continued for a few more years. It has been quite clear that his reactions have got slower and he would struggle against a faster attack. Being a champion, he would have known it better than us. Tendulkar played atleast 8 test matches more than what he should have, it is good that Kallis is stopping short of that. Kallis may still be able to score against better attacks but would be nowhere near his past consistency.But if you ask whether he could have continued as an all rounder, he could have but a champion like him whose standards are very high would have preferred to go out rather than be amongst lesser mortals.

  • on December 29, 2013, 3:47 GMT

    Kaliis can easily play atleast 4 more years for test cricket and break tendulkar Runs record.

  • uksar on December 29, 2013, 3:27 GMT

    One aspect of his incompleteness as a cricketer is not captaining his country and I don't think it was in his hand tough.It's a huge surprise as well as disappointment to me.

  • Robster1 on December 29, 2013, 3:01 GMT

    King Kallis - reconsider please and retire from tests at your home ground Newlands after again beating the Aussies.

  • nlambda on December 29, 2013, 1:55 GMT

    This was not a particularly good innings from Kallis. As an Indian, am happy that he batted this way but from SA point of view scoring 217 in 86 overs is not quite a matchwinning effort. Good of the writer to point out that the scoring rate was quite slow.

  • Fijicricket on December 29, 2013, 1:14 GMT

    @ i-s-r-a-r on (December 28, 2013, 18:02 GMT) The only team battling to survive thru out the series is South Africa.! Even after the 3rd day they are still behind India's 1st innings total!

  • on December 29, 2013, 0:44 GMT

    he retired in grace like Ajit Agarkar r ..He had achieved almost everything and still could bowl 140 pplus oize

  • Greatest_Game on December 29, 2013, 0:00 GMT

    "Some are of the opinion that Kallis slowing down could have hurt South Africa's chances of winning. Others believe he has given them the platform to push for a result."

    Kallis is the anchor, to keep India busy on one end, & support his partner, whose job it is to attack. Attack carries risk. Kallis has to minimize all risk to stay in, to continue to anchor. If he goes, SA's underbelly is exposed.

    As AB attacked, Dhoni's fields got defensive, freeing Kallis to up his run rate, without risk. Duminy did not attack - he survived. The fields became attacking. Kallis kept the innings safe, & frustrated India. The innings bogged down because Duminy bogged down. If Kallis had risked his wicket, & lost it, Faf would have no partner. Duminy was not going to survive.

    Kallis must shepherd Faf, Robbie & Vernon, & they must focus on scoring. Kallis must keep the innings alive. The simple equation is this: while SA is batting, & scoring runs, INDIA IS NOT!! SA must set the target, not chase it.

  • Diaz54 on December 28, 2013, 22:49 GMT

    Kallis is the best and should not retire. Shame really.,he can even now get int any side in the world!!

  • on December 28, 2013, 22:47 GMT

    SA needs him in the Test format..they are pretty well placed in the other two formats. In fact Kallis presence in ODI/T20 teams would disturb the team balance. It was evident in the series against Pakistan. I guess it is a little rusty decision.

  • SurlyCynic on December 28, 2013, 22:46 GMT

    This is a very difficult pitch to bat on now, it's also perfectly suited to spin and reverse swing and India have bowled well on it. If SA have to bat last on day 5 even 150 could be tough to get so it was critical to get a lead on the first innings. Hopefully the weather stays away and SA bat to tea - that's the best chance of winning even if survival today was slow.

    The 3 quick wickets in the morning and India's collapse yesterday show the dangers of the pitch which has got more difficult every day.

  • andy172 on December 28, 2013, 22:45 GMT

    @Shabir003: Seriously? lets call spade a spade. Given the current match situation, the way kallis is batting looks a bit selfish but I know great players always play for the team and the viewers just dont get it, how it is out there. I have a lot of respect for the man, but changing gears to change the match situation was never Kallis's forte, hence the greats dont mention his name along side Sachin, Lara, Ponting. Cricinfo, I hope you post this, otherwise, its my 100th unposted post :(

  • satkaru1 on December 28, 2013, 20:15 GMT

    RESPECT to Kallis.. PERIOD..

  • Shabir003 on December 28, 2013, 19:40 GMT

    He shows to world he is not selfish like other players who retire after either being forced to retire or getting dropped from team.JK was always plays for a team not for his record.if wana a to have a record own than he can still play two years and can broke sachins test record centuries but he knows it is time to retire now because from few innings he feel that he not contributing to its team so he make this decision and make shock statement to world.In comparsion to sachins retirement who retire without contributing too much to india team for near about 3 years without a single hundred but he still play for what.but jacques kallis is the man.i salute him for what he has done we should appreicate his decision.hope you score a hundred tomrrowo best of luck to great all rounder

  • on December 28, 2013, 19:21 GMT

    That is how he always showed the critics that he has something left with the bat. He craves for runs like any other best in the game. It is a coincidence that two of my all time favorite cricketers retired in the same year. Jacques Kallis was one of those great crickets that make you love Test Cricket.

  • mannan_ma on December 28, 2013, 19:09 GMT

    Kallis is the greatest cricketer ever.Period. Just look up his record.Does anybody have a better record than Kallis's. I did not get see Sobers play.However, I saw Kapil, Imran, Botham,Flintoff,Hadlee, Lance and Chris cairns in action. I also saw great batsmen like Richards,Gavaskar,Martin Crowe, Greenidge, Mark and Steve Waugh, Mark Taylor,Tendulkar,Ponting, Lara, Inzimam and Dravid. Kallis could simply be considered amongst either the greatest of batmens or greatest of all rounders. Therefore, he should be considered the greatest cricketer ever.

  • The_Freakster on December 28, 2013, 19:07 GMT

    As Sanjay and Cullinan pointed out in Matchpoint, Kallis failed to push the scoring when he had the chance. For someone playing in his final test, scoring at a S/R of 35 is poor. With rain forecast on each of the final 2 days, this match looks headed for a draw. Though Kallis is out there, he never looked threatening to take the game away from India, and India will certainly not mind a 0-0 drawn series, which will be a kick in the teeth for the no.1 side in their own backyard.

  • on December 28, 2013, 18:26 GMT

    Kallis is much better than current batsmen all around the world of cricket.Can anyone tell me who is better than kallis right now.He is still retiring unlike india pakistan players that dont retire unless they are force to do so my their boards or fans.

  • on December 28, 2013, 18:24 GMT

    I dont think he'll open up at all. The wicket is tricky and we need to get quite a bit in front. Opening up and risking him to loose is wicket is not wise. Rather make sure of a draw before you for a win. We SERIOUSLY need to bat and get solidly in front. We can't bat last on this wicket. We have to bat until an hour before close of play tomorrow, and then hope to bowl them out on a dodgy wicket. We cant chase 200 runs on this cracked up creepy crawly wicket.

  • i-s-r-a-r on December 28, 2013, 18:02 GMT

    I do not expect kallis to open up until he reaches 100. I think, South africa will be batting for two more sessions tomorrow, before letting india bat again to survive the last 4 sessions.

  • wernbrian on December 28, 2013, 18:01 GMT

    Kallis should stay on till he gets his 300th test and ODI wickets.

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  • wernbrian on December 28, 2013, 18:01 GMT

    Kallis should stay on till he gets his 300th test and ODI wickets.

  • i-s-r-a-r on December 28, 2013, 18:02 GMT

    I do not expect kallis to open up until he reaches 100. I think, South africa will be batting for two more sessions tomorrow, before letting india bat again to survive the last 4 sessions.

  • on December 28, 2013, 18:24 GMT

    I dont think he'll open up at all. The wicket is tricky and we need to get quite a bit in front. Opening up and risking him to loose is wicket is not wise. Rather make sure of a draw before you for a win. We SERIOUSLY need to bat and get solidly in front. We can't bat last on this wicket. We have to bat until an hour before close of play tomorrow, and then hope to bowl them out on a dodgy wicket. We cant chase 200 runs on this cracked up creepy crawly wicket.

  • on December 28, 2013, 18:26 GMT

    Kallis is much better than current batsmen all around the world of cricket.Can anyone tell me who is better than kallis right now.He is still retiring unlike india pakistan players that dont retire unless they are force to do so my their boards or fans.

  • The_Freakster on December 28, 2013, 19:07 GMT

    As Sanjay and Cullinan pointed out in Matchpoint, Kallis failed to push the scoring when he had the chance. For someone playing in his final test, scoring at a S/R of 35 is poor. With rain forecast on each of the final 2 days, this match looks headed for a draw. Though Kallis is out there, he never looked threatening to take the game away from India, and India will certainly not mind a 0-0 drawn series, which will be a kick in the teeth for the no.1 side in their own backyard.

  • mannan_ma on December 28, 2013, 19:09 GMT

    Kallis is the greatest cricketer ever.Period. Just look up his record.Does anybody have a better record than Kallis's. I did not get see Sobers play.However, I saw Kapil, Imran, Botham,Flintoff,Hadlee, Lance and Chris cairns in action. I also saw great batsmen like Richards,Gavaskar,Martin Crowe, Greenidge, Mark and Steve Waugh, Mark Taylor,Tendulkar,Ponting, Lara, Inzimam and Dravid. Kallis could simply be considered amongst either the greatest of batmens or greatest of all rounders. Therefore, he should be considered the greatest cricketer ever.

  • on December 28, 2013, 19:21 GMT

    That is how he always showed the critics that he has something left with the bat. He craves for runs like any other best in the game. It is a coincidence that two of my all time favorite cricketers retired in the same year. Jacques Kallis was one of those great crickets that make you love Test Cricket.

  • Shabir003 on December 28, 2013, 19:40 GMT

    He shows to world he is not selfish like other players who retire after either being forced to retire or getting dropped from team.JK was always plays for a team not for his record.if wana a to have a record own than he can still play two years and can broke sachins test record centuries but he knows it is time to retire now because from few innings he feel that he not contributing to its team so he make this decision and make shock statement to world.In comparsion to sachins retirement who retire without contributing too much to india team for near about 3 years without a single hundred but he still play for what.but jacques kallis is the man.i salute him for what he has done we should appreicate his decision.hope you score a hundred tomrrowo best of luck to great all rounder

  • satkaru1 on December 28, 2013, 20:15 GMT

    RESPECT to Kallis.. PERIOD..

  • andy172 on December 28, 2013, 22:45 GMT

    @Shabir003: Seriously? lets call spade a spade. Given the current match situation, the way kallis is batting looks a bit selfish but I know great players always play for the team and the viewers just dont get it, how it is out there. I have a lot of respect for the man, but changing gears to change the match situation was never Kallis's forte, hence the greats dont mention his name along side Sachin, Lara, Ponting. Cricinfo, I hope you post this, otherwise, its my 100th unposted post :(