Kallis targetting 2015 World Cup
In 16 years of international cricket, Jacques Kallis has scored centuries against all nine other Test playing nations, has been part of series wins in Australia and England and has seen numerous ODI series victories. One thing he does not have, though, is a World Cup medal and it is that missing piece that is driving him to try to continue playing international cricket until at least 2015.
"The one thing I want to try and achieve is to be part of a team that can win a World Cup. That's a goal of mine," Kallis said after South Africa's victory in the third Test against Sri Lanka, in Cape Town. Kallis has played 317 ODIs, including five World Cups. He will turn 37 this year and will be 39 by the time the next World Cup takes place, in Australia and New Zealand, in 2015.
At the start of the summer local media expressed concern about what they called Kallis' dwindling reflexes, after he was worked over by Australia's 18-year-old fast bowler Pat Cummins, who trouble Kallis with his bouncer. Kallis said he did not read the reports and was only told about it by friends. His response on the field, though, was fierce.
He scored 224, his highest Test score, against Sri Lanka at Newlands, an aggressive pull shot the hallmark of his innings. He also extinguished doubts about his reflexes by taking six catches, five of which were at second slip. To cap it off, he took three wickets in Sri Lanka's second innings. It was an emphatic way to celebrate his 150th Test match and a screaming declaration of what he still has to offer South African cricket. "I couldn't have asked for it to have worked out better," Kallis said. "You dream of performances like that."
While he appeared closer to a teenager than someone entering his late 30s in Cape Town, Kallis has acknowledged that his workload needs to be managed. He did not bowl in the first innings at Newlands, after his marathon effort with the bat, because his captain Graeme Smith felt he "would not get much out of him."
Managing Kallis' bowling load could be key to prolonging his career. That could prove tricky due to the make-up of South Africa's bowling attack. With three aggressive fast bowlers and a legspinner in the side, Kallis is required to play a containing role with the ball, and if needed, to, in his words, "carry," the attack. In the shorter form of the game, he is unlikely to be used in the same capacity and less work with the ball could be vital as he targets 2015.
"I will take it year by year, month by month and game by game," he said. "No-one has the right to play in this side [without earning his place]. You've got to put in the performances for that. As long as I am enjoying it and putting in the performances, and the body holds, there's no reason for me to stop yet."
Kallis has been named in South Africa's squad for the first two ODIs against Sri Lanka, after which the selectors will decide on the group for the remaining three matches. Kallis said he hopes to play in all five fixtures although he recognises that he may be forced to pick which matches to play in the future.
"It looks like I will play all five matches. I said to Gary [Kirsten, the South Africa coach], we will have a look at it after the first two and we'll make a call from there. That will be the standard going forward. I have to be clever if I want to make it to the next World Cup."
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent