South Africa v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Cape Town, 1st day January 3, 2012

Kallis feasts on the green grass of home

Sri Lanka laid out a royal feast of bad bowling on day one at Cape Town. Jacques Kallis and Alviro Petersen tucked in and chalked up important runs.
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If two men are hungry, they can only eat if food is plentiful. Luckily for Alviro Petersen and Jacques Kallis, Sri Lanka brought everything from the placemats to dessert and laid out a royal feast.

Petersen admitted that South Africa were "surprised" that Sri Lanka asked them to bat, on a pitch that looked "quite dry". At first, they may have suspected a poisoned apple but no such dangerous food emerged. All that lay before them was a land of milk and honey: batting paradise with the chance for the two at the crease to prove their differing, but equally important, points.

Petersen's need to make a statement is obvious. He has just been recalled to the national team after being dropped, for no real doing of his own, but the hard-to-ignore form of another - Jacques Rudolph. If there was any glaring fault in Petersen's previous nine Tests it would be that he failed to notch up milestones often enough. His century on his debut Test was memorable but fifties against West Indies and Pakistan were achieved against forgettable, below-par opposition or in equally forgettable batting-friendly circumstances.

His last series, against India, was characterised by difficult opening partnerships, on both sides, as the hosts prepared seamer-friendly pitches as part of a ploy against the sub-continental side. He was dropped, despite managing 77 in the first Test, because Rudolph was the popular choice, having made a stirring comeback to South African cricket.

Kallis had three forgettable innings and would have had a fourth if Chanaka Welegedera had caught the pull he played. He showed Sri Lanka what happens when you give one of the world's best players a second chance.

Petersen always knew that if he continued grinding away at the domestic scene, the pendulum would have to swing back in his favour. "I always believed I had the chance to get back and I had a few good performances at domestic level," he said. "I always believed I could do it. It all depended on me getting runs on the board." Since being dropped, he has scored three first-class hundreds, showing his patience, maturity and composure and forcing his way back into the national team.

Even that was not enough for vindication. Like Ashwell Prince, who scored a century in the opening position in 2009, Petersen had to be able to show that he was good enough, not just anywhere but in an international match. He realised the value of a big score and adopted the same attitude as he has had in domestic matches this season to get there: the wait, watch and then stealthily attack. "A hundred is a big milestone and it was quite satisfying to get to that," he said. "In other games, I got to 30 and 40 and I was a bit disappointed. For me, it's about pushing the bar and would have liked to have scored more."

It was an innings that could be remembered as being a turning point in Petersen's career because it has likely bought him time and flights to New Zealand and England next year. South Africa's opening pair has long been a conundrum but Petersen appears to have solved that, with the help of the opportunities he was fed by the Sri Lankan bowlers.

Kallis is on the opposite end of the spectrum. After 150 Test matches, some may think Kallis has nothing left to achieve. They would be wrong. Before today, he had not scored a century against Sri Lanka, the only Test playing nation he had not managed three figures against. Perhaps more fresh in his mind was the pair he suffered last week at Kingsmead, something that was foreign to Kallis, who had gone 16 years in international cricket without ever enduring a duck in both innings.

Combine those two factors with Kallis' age and the need for him to come good emerges. He is now 36 years-old - not yet old enough to be hard of hearing - so would have picked up the whispers in the wind that are suggesting he is getting on and that team management should start considering his future. His recent vulnerability against the short ball, particularly against Patrick Cummins, highlighted those very things Kallis would have wanted to remain in the dark: signs of age.

He had three forgettable innings against Sri Lanka and would have had a fourth, if Chanaka Welegedera had caught his top-edged pull. At that stage, Kallis was on just one. But, like Kumar Sangakkara in the last match, he showed Sri Lanka what happens when you give one of the world's best players a second chance and went on to record a magnificent 150, in perfect symbolism with his 150th match.

As the run machine rolled on, Sri Lanka continued to pepper Kallis with short balls. "We were surprised at the lines and lengths bowled," said Petersen. By then, Kallis had adjusted to keeping the pull down and went on to record one of his classiest knocks. In the process, Kallis owns Newlands the way Mahela Jayawardene does the SSC in Colombo and Graham Gooch did Lord's. He passed 2,000 runs on his home ground, a sign that the grass really is greener for some at Newlands.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on January 5, 2012, 4:51 GMT

    @harmony111 - I find it insulting that you would bulk me with people of "my ilk" (whatever that means). I have responded to the points you made and wouldn't dare to pigeonhole you into a category of my making. In comments I have made elsewhere, I have defended the point that home series pitches should be representative of the general nature of the country's pitches. Having a deliberatley under- or overprepared pitch is shameful but having a pitch that takes turn in the sub continent or a bouncy pitch in SA is expected and reasonable. I also have not made any comments about Indian players because these articles are not about Indian cricket. I won't engage you on those points.

  • Harmony111 on January 4, 2012, 16:27 GMT

    @Bruce Robinson:-

    Alright. So it is proven by your own point that Kallis was unable to bat even on a less than usual fast N bouncy Durban wicket. Hmmm. Had any Indian failed like that, many people would have been using the cliche. Had any Indian scored a double like JK did today, many people would have been again using some other cliche. Next, I am happy to see you mentioning the resident nature of pitches in SA. May I ask you (OK, not exactly you but the likes of you) to also use the same thinking for the wickets in India. Just like the wickets in SA have have residual bounce and can't be changed match by match or series by series or even year by year; may be the Indian wickets too are like that !! So I hope the noise about Indian wickets being "Tailor Made" will not come at least from you and some of your ilk. I hope so.

  • rickytherocket on January 4, 2012, 16:09 GMT

    It would be unfair to say that Kallis is a better batsman than the likes of Tendulkar, Ponting, Dravid etc. In my opinion, they are all fantastic batsmen in their own right and have achieved so much in their long and distinguished careers. There is very little to choose between them. What sets Kallis apart from the rest is that he is also one of the most accomplished allrounders the world has ever seen. Granted, he is probably not as exciting to watch as Tendulkar, but that doesn't make him any less of a player.

  • AidanFX on January 4, 2012, 15:53 GMT

    Thank goodness SL showed some fight again - But kudos to Kallis - Aussie - who rates SA as a powerful team; they went out to make a statement following their loss and showed they are a giant or at least capable of it.

  • Harmony111 on January 4, 2012, 15:52 GMT

    @Ryan Stephen:-

    No doubt you feel you have made a good point, right? Now tell me, if it is meaningless to combine Sachin's ODI centuries to his Test Centuries to get 99 then how meaningful is it for you to combine what Kallis does with the ball and with the bat? In any case, it makes him a better all-rounder than any of them (the best actually) but neither a better bowler than Zahir nor a better batsman than Sachin. In such analysis, once can use a variety of tilting factors to change balance. Please don't think I don't like Kallis - I love him. But I am merely using the same set of arguments many people use to discount the records of some Indian cricketers. Most interesting is to see people shifting the goalposts each time their own logic comes back to make their hero look a bit poorer. To even things here, I do admit that JK has a very very strong case but he loses out primarily for his lack of scoring rate like RD. Please consider only JK's overall strike rate.

  • on January 4, 2012, 15:46 GMT

    SA not taken this as gentleman cricket,They scared and now made this pitch as batting track... tooo bad...... even though if SA wins this game,this game should considered as cheat.... Dilshan fallen in the trap which

  • vparisa on January 4, 2012, 14:07 GMT

    Yup without a doubt Kallis is the greatest cricketer EVER (from a SRT fan).

  • on January 4, 2012, 11:44 GMT

    Cricketers such as Kallis make great statements, (of intent), contributions, and get runs/wickets at vital times.After an ignominious 'pair' in Durban and even tho' he has like his technique a flawless temperament he would have felt under some pressure going into that innings but he always seems to produce when it matters most and he does it consistently as his test match batting average - only Trott has a marginally better one of any batsman currently playing international (test match) cricket - has remained well over fifty and virtually unchanged for over 10 years!!... not even SRT or Punter can match that? I've watched a lot of his knocks over the years and despite SLs 'pop gun' attack - you've still got to play your shots to get your runs - nothing IMHO will make me change my mind that he is quite simply the best white batsman I've ever seen in or across ANY era(s) & statistically he is a true GREAT of the game

  • stormy16 on January 4, 2012, 9:37 GMT

    You cant keep a class act down for too long and this is what differentiates Kallis from others like say Ponting and Jayawardena. Sure Kallis has a few poor tests but that's it - a few poor tests as opposed to a couple of years. Sure the SL attack is poor as they come but this is still a pressure test for SA and if they didnt bat well yesterday the pressure would have been right on SA and Kallis delivers. It was amusing to listen to the whispers about Kallis after his pair- the guy is a legend and legends just dont fail for too long. I must say Rudolph is probably screaming at not getting to open on this wicket - instead he got the toughest wickets of the summer and now may not bat and may even miss the next tour. Alviro deserves his shot and as luck would have it, probably got the best wicket of the summer. Funny how things work out.

  • on January 4, 2012, 8:02 GMT

    @Harmony111: Unfortunately you're in a check mate position with your argument their bro, if SA pitches are favouring the batsmen, then Kallis is a better bowler than Zaheer Khan, on the other hand, if SA pitches favour the bowler, then Kallis, with a higher average than Tendulkar, is well, I dare not say it

  • on January 5, 2012, 4:51 GMT

    @harmony111 - I find it insulting that you would bulk me with people of "my ilk" (whatever that means). I have responded to the points you made and wouldn't dare to pigeonhole you into a category of my making. In comments I have made elsewhere, I have defended the point that home series pitches should be representative of the general nature of the country's pitches. Having a deliberatley under- or overprepared pitch is shameful but having a pitch that takes turn in the sub continent or a bouncy pitch in SA is expected and reasonable. I also have not made any comments about Indian players because these articles are not about Indian cricket. I won't engage you on those points.

  • Harmony111 on January 4, 2012, 16:27 GMT

    @Bruce Robinson:-

    Alright. So it is proven by your own point that Kallis was unable to bat even on a less than usual fast N bouncy Durban wicket. Hmmm. Had any Indian failed like that, many people would have been using the cliche. Had any Indian scored a double like JK did today, many people would have been again using some other cliche. Next, I am happy to see you mentioning the resident nature of pitches in SA. May I ask you (OK, not exactly you but the likes of you) to also use the same thinking for the wickets in India. Just like the wickets in SA have have residual bounce and can't be changed match by match or series by series or even year by year; may be the Indian wickets too are like that !! So I hope the noise about Indian wickets being "Tailor Made" will not come at least from you and some of your ilk. I hope so.

  • rickytherocket on January 4, 2012, 16:09 GMT

    It would be unfair to say that Kallis is a better batsman than the likes of Tendulkar, Ponting, Dravid etc. In my opinion, they are all fantastic batsmen in their own right and have achieved so much in their long and distinguished careers. There is very little to choose between them. What sets Kallis apart from the rest is that he is also one of the most accomplished allrounders the world has ever seen. Granted, he is probably not as exciting to watch as Tendulkar, but that doesn't make him any less of a player.

  • AidanFX on January 4, 2012, 15:53 GMT

    Thank goodness SL showed some fight again - But kudos to Kallis - Aussie - who rates SA as a powerful team; they went out to make a statement following their loss and showed they are a giant or at least capable of it.

  • Harmony111 on January 4, 2012, 15:52 GMT

    @Ryan Stephen:-

    No doubt you feel you have made a good point, right? Now tell me, if it is meaningless to combine Sachin's ODI centuries to his Test Centuries to get 99 then how meaningful is it for you to combine what Kallis does with the ball and with the bat? In any case, it makes him a better all-rounder than any of them (the best actually) but neither a better bowler than Zahir nor a better batsman than Sachin. In such analysis, once can use a variety of tilting factors to change balance. Please don't think I don't like Kallis - I love him. But I am merely using the same set of arguments many people use to discount the records of some Indian cricketers. Most interesting is to see people shifting the goalposts each time their own logic comes back to make their hero look a bit poorer. To even things here, I do admit that JK has a very very strong case but he loses out primarily for his lack of scoring rate like RD. Please consider only JK's overall strike rate.

  • on January 4, 2012, 15:46 GMT

    SA not taken this as gentleman cricket,They scared and now made this pitch as batting track... tooo bad...... even though if SA wins this game,this game should considered as cheat.... Dilshan fallen in the trap which

  • vparisa on January 4, 2012, 14:07 GMT

    Yup without a doubt Kallis is the greatest cricketer EVER (from a SRT fan).

  • on January 4, 2012, 11:44 GMT

    Cricketers such as Kallis make great statements, (of intent), contributions, and get runs/wickets at vital times.After an ignominious 'pair' in Durban and even tho' he has like his technique a flawless temperament he would have felt under some pressure going into that innings but he always seems to produce when it matters most and he does it consistently as his test match batting average - only Trott has a marginally better one of any batsman currently playing international (test match) cricket - has remained well over fifty and virtually unchanged for over 10 years!!... not even SRT or Punter can match that? I've watched a lot of his knocks over the years and despite SLs 'pop gun' attack - you've still got to play your shots to get your runs - nothing IMHO will make me change my mind that he is quite simply the best white batsman I've ever seen in or across ANY era(s) & statistically he is a true GREAT of the game

  • stormy16 on January 4, 2012, 9:37 GMT

    You cant keep a class act down for too long and this is what differentiates Kallis from others like say Ponting and Jayawardena. Sure Kallis has a few poor tests but that's it - a few poor tests as opposed to a couple of years. Sure the SL attack is poor as they come but this is still a pressure test for SA and if they didnt bat well yesterday the pressure would have been right on SA and Kallis delivers. It was amusing to listen to the whispers about Kallis after his pair- the guy is a legend and legends just dont fail for too long. I must say Rudolph is probably screaming at not getting to open on this wicket - instead he got the toughest wickets of the summer and now may not bat and may even miss the next tour. Alviro deserves his shot and as luck would have it, probably got the best wicket of the summer. Funny how things work out.

  • on January 4, 2012, 8:02 GMT

    @Harmony111: Unfortunately you're in a check mate position with your argument their bro, if SA pitches are favouring the batsmen, then Kallis is a better bowler than Zaheer Khan, on the other hand, if SA pitches favour the bowler, then Kallis, with a higher average than Tendulkar, is well, I dare not say it

  • atthipatti on January 4, 2012, 7:02 GMT

    Great innings from Kallis! Not his best though, considering the bowling and the track. Only man looking like chasing Sachin's achievements...No shame if he surpasses SRT! Mean while see how SRT is goofing up under pressure & of the "POP Wall", the lesser I said, the better it is...considering what he did in England last year!!

  • satish619chandar on January 4, 2012, 6:31 GMT

    Well.. Great innings from Kallis.. Legends cant be kept quiet for long.. For the ones criticizing the pitch, bowlers too need to be tested.. They cant get away with easy wickets in green pitches.. Let them put extra yard and suppress the batsmen in flat decks.. Why tests should always test the batsmen?? I do hope we have a result in the match.. The pace at which SA scored will set them up some extra overs to bowl..

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on January 4, 2012, 6:15 GMT

    Isn't it ironic that the greatest cricketer of this era aka Jacques Kallis doesn't get as hyped as Sachin or Dravid? I think cricket sells bigtime in our country and media has to 'make' our players as the best in the world when clearly Kallis is well ahead of Sachin or Dravid or VVS. It would be a shame if Kallis doesn't get included in Cricinfo's Legends of Cricket Video Series. And to top it all, he is such a role model to any kid in any country and a Gentleman to the core with near zero negative emotions against his opponents. He oozes class, dignity and pedigree. What else one needs to be included in the Legends of Cricket? I'm not a South African, BTW. I'm an Indian.

  • donda on January 4, 2012, 6:03 GMT

    I don't know about Sobers but if some body asks me I would Pick Kallis in my all time test IX as batting all rounder without any doubt. He is techniqly the most correct batsman along with Sachin. He is great slip fielder like dravid. He is great bowler like Sobers and more wickets than Sobers. I think today year 2012 , Kallis is better all round cricketer than any all rounder in history of cricket because of his record. No body in cricket has most perfect career than Kallis. He has done every thing other than Wicket keeping. He is legend and greatest batting alrounder in cricket history.

  • punter1973 on January 4, 2012, 5:29 GMT

    Well done Kallis, one of my favourite cricketers apart from Brian Lara & Ricky Ponting. Kallis is a legend, unlike other cricketers he has scored runs and taken wickets as well. Tell me who other can be compared to Kallis with batting and bowling. The bat did the talking and silenced his critics well and truly.

    I hope that Kallis would play until 40 so that he has the most number of test matches, runs and centuries with the highest average.

    Good Luck Kallis and well done.

  • sachin_vvsfan on January 4, 2012, 4:56 GMT

    Kallis is very underrated as a batsman . He is truly the greatest Test player among contemporary cricketers(Yes that includes likes of sachin, ponting dravid)

  • on January 4, 2012, 1:28 GMT

    Purely for interest's sake, I will respond to Harmony111. It is also interesting to note that it was the first pair of Kallis's Test career played in all conditions in all countries. It is also worth noting that the Kingsmead pitch was the slowest it has been in recent years and the ball moved less than it has for some time. It is also worthy of mentioning that the norm in South Africa regarding pitch preparation is that it is left up to the curator of the ground. No member of the administration or player setup contacts the ground demanding pitches of a certain type. On that note, it's ridiculous to moan about "tailor-made" bouncy tracks when those pitches at those grounds have had those characteristics for decades.

  • ozobozo on January 4, 2012, 0:19 GMT

    OWWW this was a treat. this was easily the best Kallis century i have seen, never seen so many straight drive 4s in my life. King Kallis!!!

  • on January 3, 2012, 23:15 GMT

    r1m2 - Not sure where you get your data from but Kallis is on 58 hundreds (41 in tests and 17 in ODI). 100 100+ ain't gonna happen for him.

  • Harmony111 on January 3, 2012, 22:46 GMT

    Fully agree with Dravid_Gravitas. SA saw that they too are not able to handle fast and bouncy wickets. They were scared to lose a series to Sri Lanka and so prepared an easy track so that a draw was the most likely result. Its a shame that Dilshan seems to take some really weird decisions, much like Dhoni these days.

    Btw, I don't hear too may people saying that Kallis can score runs only at home and that too on flat tracks. It is interesting to note that Kallis got a pair in the last test that was played on a somewhat bowler friendly wicket. This is just why Indian fans get so much worked up when people deride the records of Sehwag or SRT or other Indian players. They just don't see the double standards they are employing. 1& half tests of success for Oz bowlers and they are being touted as soon to be the best in the world. They don't see the inherent flaw that they are playing at home and and so this doesn't count much.

  • on January 3, 2012, 22:40 GMT

    @David_Gravitas: But it makes for exciting cricket! Having said that, I don't think there was anything wrong with the Durban pitch. SA played poorly and got what they deserved. I also think, and I may be proven wrong, that we're going to see a very different wicket when SA has a bowl in this match. The Lankans bowled poorly. If they had hit good lengths more often they would have had a much better result for their effort. Most of the runs were scored on the leg side (line was horrible) and off good cricket shots (length was poor). I don't see Philander, Steyn, etc chucking pies at the Lankan batsmen for a whole day.

  • Vista12 on January 3, 2012, 22:00 GMT

    Kallis has always been one of my favourite batsmen (just behind Lara) but the way he has changed his approach to test match batting is unreal. 5 years ago he used to be very patient almost to the detriment of the team, but the way he has batted now really elevates him into elite batting company and takes away any doubt about his greatness.

    In regards to Sachins record, I think Cook is more likely to surpass that record...

  • Brucee68 on January 3, 2012, 21:50 GMT

    I agree with the others that say Kallis should freshen up instead of play ODI ....kallis is a champion I hope he continues to score lots more Test hundreds. He deserves to break the highest test score by a South African ; and hopefully in this match .

  • r1m2 on January 3, 2012, 21:45 GMT

    Is it possible for Kallis to get to 100 international 100+ scores before Tendulkar? Kallis is now on 96. SAfrica should declare and allow Kallis another crack at this sorry bowling lineup in the second innings.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on January 3, 2012, 21:44 GMT

    Hope this best cricketer, Jacques 'The Legend' Kallis gets to a double hundred tomorrow. Much respects from India from a die-hard admirer of a similar player - Rahul Dravid.

  • FoollyFedUp on January 3, 2012, 21:29 GMT

    Guys, forget the milestones...Kallis is a Tendulkar + Zaheer Khan for free. Easily the greatest playing Test Cricketer.

  • Yazdegerd on January 3, 2012, 19:50 GMT

    Kallis is real cricket legend. I always rated him above all guys in present day cricket. I am happy he got another hundred and i am sure, he will go after a double century tomorrow. Good luck Kallis

  • on January 3, 2012, 19:40 GMT

    Kallis is far from done yet,he is very fit and will hava a long career as tendulkar. May be he should play less meaningless odi's to prolong test career as tendulkar.

  • on January 3, 2012, 19:17 GMT

    jaques kallis is just too good a player... he is just too good :)

  • CricketFirstLove on January 3, 2012, 19:08 GMT

    He is ten centuries behind Tendulkar. He better play like this more often he wants to catch up and he should try. Why not? Good for cricket.

  • BellCurve on January 3, 2012, 18:57 GMT

    Kallis now has 41 Test centuries. Tendulkar has 51. Kallis is 2.5 years younger than Tendulkar. If Kallis scores centuries at a rate of 4 per year for the next 2.5 years, he effectively draws level with Tendulkar. It is unlikely that this would happen; but it certainly is within the realms of possibility. Tendulkar better hurry up and score that elusive 100th 100. Otherwise his legacy may be surpassed in the not too distant future.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on January 3, 2012, 18:40 GMT

    Excellent inning by The Legend. But what's with South African tracks? They either produce dodgy underprepared grassbowls or flat tracks. Can't they produce some sporting wickets?

  • on January 3, 2012, 18:28 GMT

    A genuine champion player.It's great to watch him in full flow.I hope he will score another 9 centuries before his retirement to make 50 century mark for him.

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  • on January 3, 2012, 18:28 GMT

    A genuine champion player.It's great to watch him in full flow.I hope he will score another 9 centuries before his retirement to make 50 century mark for him.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on January 3, 2012, 18:40 GMT

    Excellent inning by The Legend. But what's with South African tracks? They either produce dodgy underprepared grassbowls or flat tracks. Can't they produce some sporting wickets?

  • BellCurve on January 3, 2012, 18:57 GMT

    Kallis now has 41 Test centuries. Tendulkar has 51. Kallis is 2.5 years younger than Tendulkar. If Kallis scores centuries at a rate of 4 per year for the next 2.5 years, he effectively draws level with Tendulkar. It is unlikely that this would happen; but it certainly is within the realms of possibility. Tendulkar better hurry up and score that elusive 100th 100. Otherwise his legacy may be surpassed in the not too distant future.

  • CricketFirstLove on January 3, 2012, 19:08 GMT

    He is ten centuries behind Tendulkar. He better play like this more often he wants to catch up and he should try. Why not? Good for cricket.

  • on January 3, 2012, 19:17 GMT

    jaques kallis is just too good a player... he is just too good :)

  • on January 3, 2012, 19:40 GMT

    Kallis is far from done yet,he is very fit and will hava a long career as tendulkar. May be he should play less meaningless odi's to prolong test career as tendulkar.

  • Yazdegerd on January 3, 2012, 19:50 GMT

    Kallis is real cricket legend. I always rated him above all guys in present day cricket. I am happy he got another hundred and i am sure, he will go after a double century tomorrow. Good luck Kallis

  • FoollyFedUp on January 3, 2012, 21:29 GMT

    Guys, forget the milestones...Kallis is a Tendulkar + Zaheer Khan for free. Easily the greatest playing Test Cricketer.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on January 3, 2012, 21:44 GMT

    Hope this best cricketer, Jacques 'The Legend' Kallis gets to a double hundred tomorrow. Much respects from India from a die-hard admirer of a similar player - Rahul Dravid.

  • r1m2 on January 3, 2012, 21:45 GMT

    Is it possible for Kallis to get to 100 international 100+ scores before Tendulkar? Kallis is now on 96. SAfrica should declare and allow Kallis another crack at this sorry bowling lineup in the second innings.