Jacques Kallis retires from Tests

A spotless Test record

Over a Test career that lasted 18 years, there were hardly any boxes that Jacques Kallis did not tick

S Rajesh

December 31, 2013

Comments: 26 | Text size: A | A

Jacques Kallis defends on the off side, South Africa v India, 1st Test, Johannesburg, 5th day, December 22, 2013
Between 1999 and 2012, Jacques Kallis averaged 61.33 in Tests, easily the best among all batsmen © AFP

Only Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting scored more Test runs than him. However, with Jacques Kallis the runs he scored only tells part of the story, because he also sent down 3372 overs in Tests (Tendulkar and Ponting together bowled 804.3) and took 292 wickets - 29th in the list of all-time leading wicket-takers in Tests, and fifth-best among South Africans. Add the two and you get an idea of just how staggering Kallis's achievements were in Test cricket.

For close to two decades, Kallis handled the burden of contributing significantly with both bat and ball, which allowed South Africa the luxury of playing six specialist batsmen, plus a wicketkeeper and five bowlers. The bowling eventually took a back seat, but throughout the 2000s there was no batsman as prolific as Kallis.

For a batsman who became so consistent, the start to his career was surprisingly slow. In his first seven innings he reached double digits just once: his scores read 1, 7, 6, 39, 0, 2, 2 - he started off as a 20-year-old against England and Australia, and the baptism was clearly a tough one. After 22 Tests he averaged less than 31. Even in those early days, though, there were unmistakable signs of class: in Melbourne in 1997, he scored 101 in the fourth innings - his first Test century - to help South Africa bat 122 overs and save the Test. Next year in England he made another century, and when West Indies toured in 1998-99, Kallis scored a mountain of runs - 485 in five Tests - that kickstarted his international career.

Over the next nine years Kallis averaged more than 65, with 27 centuries. Though there was a brief slump in 2008, he was again back at his best between 2009 and 2012. The century in his last Test innings - the fourth South African batsman to achieve this - ensured he scored at least one century in a calendar year for 17 successive years, from 1997 to 2013. (Click here for Kallis' batting career summary.)

As a bowler, Kallis' effectiveness waned as he went along. In his first 65 Tests he averaged more than two wickets per Test but after 2008 he barely managed one per match, while the number of overs he bowled per Test dropped as well.

Jacques Kallis' batting career in Tests
Period Tests Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
Till Dec 1998 22 1019 30.87 36.62 2/ 5
Jan 1999 to Dec 2007 90 8263 65.06 44.96 27/ 41
Jan 2008 to Feb 2009 17 778 31.12 45.76 1/ 4
Mar 2009 to Dec 2012 29 2920 67.90 54.21 14/ 6
2013 8 309 25.75 47.03 1/ 2
Career 166 13289 55.37 45.97 45/ 58
Jacques Kallis' bowling career in Tests
Period Tests Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI Overs/Test
Till 2002 65 136 28.30 63.80 3 22.4
2003 to 2008 62 115 34.14 68.1 2 21.0
2009 onwards 39 41 42.87 90.4 0 15.5
Career 166 292 32.65 69.2 5 20.2

Battle of the allrounders
What set Kallis apart among modern-day allrounders was the fact that he averaged more than 50 with the bat - and was clearly among the best batsmen of his era - and yet took enough wickets to qualify as a genuine allrounder: no other player has achieved the double of 6000 runs and 250 wickets in Tests. Most of the other top allrounders batted at No. 6 or 7 and averaged in the mid-30s with the bat, but Kallis's batting skills were clearly superior.

The table below lists the top allrounders by the difference between their batting and bowling averages, and the only player with similar stats as Kallis is Garry Sobers - he averaged 57.78 with the bat and 34.03 with the ball, and the difference of 23.74 is marginally higher than Kallis' 22.72.

The other allrounders all have a difference of less than 15 between their batting and bowling averages, which is where Kallis's numbers stand out. However, Kallis averaged only 1.76 wickets per Test, while the others in the list below (apart from Sobers) took at least three per match.

The top allrounders in Test cricket (at least 2500 runs and 150 wkts)
Player Tests Runs Bat ave Wickets Bowl ave Difference*
Garry Sobers 93 8032 57.78 235 34.03 23.74
Jacques Kallis 166 13,289 55.37 292 32.65 22.72
Imran Khan 88 3807 37.69 362 22.81 14.88
Keith Miller 55 2958 36.97 170 22.97 13.99
Shaun Pollock 108 3781 32.31 421 23.11 9.19
Ian Botham 102 5200 33.54 383 28.40 5.14
Richard Hadlee 86 3124 27.16 431 22.29 4.86
Chris Cairns 62 3320 33.53 218 29.40 4.13
Kapil Dev 131 5248 31.05 434 29.64 1.40
* Difference between batting and bowling averages

Given the similarity in their numbers, it's clear that Sobers is the one player whose career numbers in both batting and bowling can be compared with Kallis. There's little to choose between their batting averages, but what stands out among the bowling numbers is the amount of overs Sobers bowled per Test - 39, compared with 20 for Kallis.

Sobers' career stretched over 20 years as well but because of the lesser frequency of matches, he only played 93 Tests, to Kallis's 166. Extrapolating Sobers's numbers after 93 matches and stretching it over 166 Tests, Sobers's career stats go up to 14,337 with 46 hundreds (to Kallis's 13,289 with 45), 195 catches (to Kallis's 200), and 419 wickets (to Kallis's 292). Clearly, the fact that Sobers bowled nearly twice as many overs per match as Kallis contributes to the huge difference in wickets.

Sobers v Kallis - batting comparison
  Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Garry Sobers 93 8032 57.78 26/ 30
Jacques Kallis 166 13,289 55.37 45/ 58
Sobers v Kallis - bowling comparison
  Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI Overs/Test
Garry Sobers 235 34.03 91.9 6 39
Jacques Kallis 292 32.65 69.2 5 20

Best between 1999 and 2012
Kallis's first 22 Tests brought him an average of only 30.87, while his last eight - all of them in 2013 - were similarly disappointing. But in between, in 136 Tests he averaged a staggering 61.33, easily the best among batsmen who scored at least 5000 runs during this period; in fact, even after reducing the qualification mark to 300 runs, no batsman has a higher average.

With a 5000-run cut-off, Kumar Sangakkara has the next-best average during this period, more than five runs below Kallis's mark. Ten batsmen had averages between 52.50 and 55.80, but Kallis stood alone on top, well clear of the others.

Best batting averages between Jan 1999 and Dec 2012 (Min 5000 runs)
Batsman Tests Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
Jacques Kallis 136 11,961 61.33 46.97 42/ 51
Kumar Sangakkara 115 10,045 55.80 53.84 30/ 41
Brian Lara 74 7212 54.63 59.19 24/ 23
Inzamam-ul-Haq 69 5670 54.51 55.49 19/ 25
Sachin Tendulkar 131 10,892 54.18 54.33 34/ 47
Ricky Ponting 146 12,169 54.08 60.10 39/ 55
Shivnarine Chanderpaul 113 8643 54.01 43.45 25/ 44
Mohammad Yousuf 83 7082 53.24 53.10 23/ 29
Matthew Hayden 96 8364 52.93 60.85 29/ 29
Michael Clarke 88 6910 52.74 55.98 22/ 24
Rahul Dravid 140 11,455 52.54 43.49 34/ 48

Tough to dislodge
Over his career entire career, Kallis faced 28,903 balls, next only to Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar. He was dismissed 240 times, which means he faced 120 deliveries, on average, per dismissal. Among batsmen who faced at least 7000 balls in Tests since the beginning of 1995, only Dravid averaged more balls per dismissal, which indicates just how difficult it was to get Kallis out.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul is next in with an average of 119.55 balls, but the batsman in fourth place is a bit of a surprise: New Zealand's Mark Richardson averaged fewer than 45 runs per dismissal, but he scored his runs at a rate of 38 per 100 balls, significantly slower than the likes of Kallis and even Dravid. That meant he faced almost 119 balls per dismissal, less than two balls fewer than Kallis.

Most balls faced per dismissal (Since 1995, at least 7000 balls faced)
Batsman Tests Runs Average Strike rate Balls Balls per dis
Rahul Dravid 164 13,288 52.31 42.51 31,258 123.06
Jacques Kallis 166 13,289 55.37 45.97 28,903 120.43
Shivnarine Chanderpaul 148 10,916 51.98 43.47 25,106 119.55
Mark Richardson 38 2776 44.77 37.66 7370 118.87
Hashan Tillakaratne 55 3132 46.05 40.35 7762 114.15
Steve Waugh 99 7115 55.15 48.50 14,669 113.71
Andy Flower 53 4209 51.96 45.75 9199 113.57
Gary Kirsten 90 6626 46.66 43.89 15,096 106.31

Colossal at No. 4
Of the 280 times Kallis batted in Tests, 170 were at the No. 4 position, a slot where he scored more than 9000 runs at an average of nearly 62. It was clearly his favourite batting position, and it was a slot where he excelled.

Among batsmen who scored at least 4000 runs at this position, Greg Chappell came closest to Kallis's average, while Tendulkar and Javed Miandad both averaged slightly more than 54. But Kallis remains the only one with a 60-plus average.

Highest averages at No. 4 (Min 4000 runs)
Batsman Innings Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Jacques Kallis 170 9033 61.86 35/ 36
Greg Chappell 86 4316 59.12 15/ 19
Sachin Tendulkar 275 13,492 54.40 44/ 58
Javed Miandad 140 6925 54.10 19/ 31
Denis Compton 86 4234 53.39 13/ 20
Inzamam-ul-Haq 98 4867 52.90 15/ 21
Mahela Jayawardene 177 8656 52.46 28/ 30
Brian Lara 148 7535 51.25 24/ 31

Apart from the sheer number of runs he scored at No. 4, Kallis also distinguished himself by scoring heavily no matter when he came in to bat. Regardless of whether he came in after two wickets had fallen early, or if the top three had scored plenty of runs, Kallis came in and did his job. On the 26 occasions when he came in with South Africa two down for 20 or fewer, Kallis averaged 56.83. In corresponding innings, Tendulkar's No. 4 average read 40.52.

One of the best examples of Kallis working a difficult situation to his advantage came in Nagpur in 2010, when South Africa batted first and were reduced to 6 for 2, before Kallis and Hashim Amla added 340 for the third wicket. South Africa scored 558, and won by an innings. Against Australia in Durban in 2006, Kallis came in at 10 for 2 and scored 114 out of a team total of 267.

Tendulkar had some memorable knocks too when he came in early - his 116 in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG came from a score of 11 for 2, while India were 6 for 2 in the fourth innings when he scored that memorable 136 against Pakistan in Chennai in 1999. But the difference between the two batsmen was the failure rate when they came in early: Tendulkar fell for single-digit scores 15 times in 37 innings when he came in with the score reading 20 or fewer; Kallis failed similarly only six times in 26 innings.

Kallis at No. 4 by point-of-entry scores
Score Innings Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Less than, equal to 20 26 1307 56.83 5/ 5
21 to 49 36 1813 54.94 9/ 5
50 to 99 49 2422 56.33 9/ 9
100 to 149 26 1254 57.00 4/ 6
150 and above 33 2237 89.48 8/ 11
Tendulkar at No. 4 by point-of-entry scores
Score Innings Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Less than 20 37 1459 40.53 5/ 5
21 to 49 68 3364 50.97 9/ 15
50-99 73 2818 44.73 9/ 16
100-149 50 2640 61.39 9/ 9
150 and above 47 3211 80.28 12/ 13

Conquering difficult home conditions
Home conditions are usually something that batsmen look forward to, but that isn't usually the case for South African batsmen because South Africa has been the toughest place for batting in the last couple of decades. Since 1996, the batting average in South Africa is 29.22, the lowest among all countries. Kallis - and other South African batsmen - thus had the handicap of having to negotiate difficult batting conditions every season, as compared to once every few years for overseas batsmen. (Amla, AB de Villiers and Graeme Smith all have significantly better averages overseas than at home.)

But Kallis was the one batsman who overcame that handicap, averaging 56.73 at home, and scoring more than 7000 runs there. No other batsman has touched 4000 runs, or scored more than ten hundreds, while the averages for everyone else in the list below are in the mid-40s, which indicates just how good Kallis's technique was in difficult conditions.

Most of the top overseas batsmen haven't averaged 50-plus in South Africa either (which is also because of South Africa's top-class bowling attack). Tendulkar, Ponting and Lara all averaged around 46, while Dravid's average fell to 29.71.

Even for Kallis, the combination of home conditions and the Australian attack proved tough: he averaged only 33.62 in 14 Tests against them at home; in Australia, he averaged 48.23.

Most Test runs in South Africa
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Jacques Kallis 88 7035 56.73 23/ 34
Graeme Smith 58 3914 43.48 10/ 19
Gary Kirsten 52 3384 42.30 8/ 16
AB de Villiers 48 3236 44.94 9/ 19
Herschelle Gibbs 47 3055 41.28 9/ 10
Mark Boucher 75 3001 33.71 4/ 20
Hashim Amla 39 2761 45.26 9/ 16
Daryll Cullinan 36 2363 44.58 7/ 11

At home in Asia
Meanwhile, Kallis is also the only non-Asian batsman to score more than 2000 runs in Asia - he scored 2058 runs at 55.62, showing his technique was equally adept for making runs in spin-friendly conditions as it was to handle pace and seam and swing.

Most Test runs in Asia, for a non-Asian batsman
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Jacques Kallis 25 2058 55.62 8/ 8
Ricky Ponting 28 1889 41.97 5/ 10
Shivnarine Chanderpaul 27 1850 48.68 4/ 8
Alastair Cook 18 1802 56.31 7/ 7
Allan Border 22 1799 54.51 6/ 8
Graeme Smith 21 1728 49.37 4/ 7
Matthew Hayden 19 1663 50.39 4/ 8
Clive Lloyd 20 1629 62.65 4/ 7

Kallis the matchwinner
And finally, Kallis also won more Man-of-the-Match awards than any other player. He won 23 of them, though one was slightly dubious, when, against West Indies in Centurion in 1999, the entire team was given the award by Dennis Lindsay, the adjudicator.

In terms of the rate of winning these awards too, Kallis is among the best - only Wasim Akram, Mitchell Johnson, Muttiah Muralitharan and Curtly Ambrose have a higher rate.

Best rate of winning MoM awards in Tests (at least 8 awards)
Player Tests MoM awards Rate
Wasim Akram 104 17 6.12
Mitchell Johnson 55 8 6.88
Muttiah Muralitharan 133 19 7.00
Curtly Ambrose 98 14 7.00
Jacques Kallis 166 23 7.22
Kumar Sangakkara 117 15 7.80
Imran Khan 88 11 8.00
Malcolm Marshall 81 10 8.10
Aravinda de Silva 93 11 8.45
Ian Botham 102 12 8.50
Shane Warne 145 17 8.53

More stand-out Kallis stats

  • Kallis is one of four allrounders to score a century and take a five-for in a Test more than once. He has done it twice. Ian Botham (five times), Garry Sobers and Mushtaq Mohammad (twice each) are the others in this club.

  • In 2003-04, Kallis scored hundreds in five successive Tests. Only Don Bradman has scored centuries in more consecutive Tests.

  • Kallis averages 56.26 in the second innings of Tests. With a 2000-run cut-off, only Bradman has a better average in second innings.

  • In 2001, Kallis scored 456 runs between dismissals, the fourth-highest by any batsman in Tests. His scores during that sequence read 157*, 42*, 189* and 68. Tendulkar holds the record for most runs between dismissals - he scored 497 in 2003-04.

  • Kallis holds the record for the fastest Test fifty - he scored one off 24 balls against Zimbabwe in Cape Town in 2005.

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

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Posted by Romanticstud on (January 6, 2014, 13:06 GMT)

To all the people that say Kallis was going after stats ... NO ... He was a team player ... He saved South Africa on numerous occasions in tests from defeat ... Against Australia ... his first hundred bore tribute to this ... Against India in the series decider in Cape Town ... India needed Kallis but Kallis never budged ... Now in his last test ... His cautious approach on the third day helped set up the 500 that South Africa made to put them in a winning position ... If he was a stat seeker, he would have asked for some time against Zimbabwe to get to 200 when being 189 not out ... He would have also asked to bowl at bit more and maybe get to 300 wickets ...

Posted by rjansen on (January 2, 2014, 15:10 GMT)

Sobers played a bigger role in the bowling attack that Kallis, as can be seen by his higher workload per test match.

However, it is worth to point out that Kallis strike rate (69.2 balls per wicket) is significantly higher than that of Sobers (91.2 balls per wicket). Kallis also rarely had the best of good conditions, as the likes of Pollock, Donald and Steyn would always have first (and sometimes second) goes with the new ball, before tossing it to Kallis for the thankless job of trying to find a breakthrough against set batsmen.

A further boost of Kallis's bowling numbers is the fact that he bowled in a more batsman friendly era. (Of course this also reflects well on Sobers's batting average.)

Posted by BellCurve on (January 2, 2014, 9:52 GMT)

One last comment in the Sobers v Kallis debate: In the Sobers period, Test bowlers averaged 31.18; during the Kallis period, Test bowlers averaged 33.42. Sobers (34.03) therefore averaged 9.1% more than his peers, whereas Kallis averaged 2.3% less than his peers. Kallis' all-round credentials are therefore slightly better than Sobers'. He truly justified selection both as a batsman and a bowler, particularly if you considered that for the bulk of his career he performed the role of 4th seamer (see previous comment).

Posted by BellCurve on (January 2, 2014, 9:30 GMT)

For most of his career Kallis performed the role of 4th seamer. That meant he bowled into the wind with an old ball. It also meant that his services were only required when the 3 specialist seamers needed support. I ran some stats. During the Kallis era, pace bowlers in bowling position No1 averaged 29.33; No2 32.04; No3 35.33; No4 35.12; No5 42.00; No6+ 45.88. When looking at Kallis' career bowling average of 32.65 he should really be compared to other support seamers - and the facts suggests that these group of players average around 37.

Posted by Protears on (January 2, 2014, 7:24 GMT)

Marathon innings, runs are not the weight of marathon innings, only Rahul Dravid has more time at the crease than Jacques Kallis.

Kallis also bowled second change mostly all career, how many 10fers do you expect to get particularly in the last 2-5 years having to watch Philander and Steyn blow away all comers, 300 wickets is no small feat, not even the great Graeme Swann got there as a bowler.

The attribute that sets Kallis and a number of current Proteas players aside is the second innings scores, that is when the game is on the line and how often have we pulled through in those situations, Kallis with his second innings numbers shows that he was a performer who could do it under the acid of tests.

Posted by   on (January 1, 2014, 19:01 GMT)

He is a very good allrounder....No doubts about that... But author of this article have missed some of the aspects.. 1. To being in great batsman's list, you should have some marathon innings to your name, Kallis lags way behind in double century count... 2. As like centuries and double centuries in batting, 5WI and 10WI are the measures of impact contribution in Bowling, kallis definately lags in those too.... If u r allrounder den u at least have either of them.... I wd rate kallis as an very very good batsman, with more than a handy bowler... Thanks kallis, for your contribution to the game...

Posted by Unomaas on (January 1, 2014, 12:48 GMT)

An article was published recently in an online Aussie newspaper (Daily Telegraph) where readers were polled as to who was the best all rounder. Of more than 5000+ votes, Kallis got 50%, Sobers 36%.

Aussies giving a Saffa respect...unheard of! Take a bow Jaques Kallis!

Don't believe me? Google "Jacques of all trades but where does Kallis stand in pantheon of Test cricket all-rounders?" and see for yourself!

Posted by   on (January 1, 2014, 12:41 GMT)

These stat will put SRT lovers to throw up!

Posted by wapuser on (January 1, 2014, 11:39 GMT)

Lol you know the reason why Jacques is never rated that highly, look at his strike rate... When u score that slow it's so hard to win a match for your team.. Also Kallis like Steve Waugh is a stat padder... Look at the guys not outs which this one eyed article manages to ignore. Also the main reason why Jacques will never be rated as high as he could be is... What has he ever won? Nothing of note...

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.
Tour Results
South Africa v India at Durban - Dec 26-30, 2013
South Africa won by 10 wickets
South Africa v India at Johannesburg - Dec 18-22, 2013
Match drawn
SAf Invit XI v Indians at Benoni - Dec 13-14, 2013
Match abandoned without a ball bowled
South Africa v India at Centurion - Dec 11, 2013
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South Africa v India at Durban - Dec 8, 2013
South Africa won by 134 runs
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