South Africa v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Cape Town January 1, 2017

Kallis offers Amla 'little pointers' but sees the hunger remain

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Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis spent many hours batting together © AFP

Newland's favourite son, Jacques Kallis, didn't say goodbye to the ground when he retired abruptly at the end of 2013 but almost three years later, he was there to say hello as the South Africans conducted their first training session of 2017. South Africa's coach Russell Domingo asked Kallis to come in to consult at what became an extended optional net session. He spent time with every batsman, was in the team meeting then even helped to pack up at the end and Domingo's hopes that the greatness will rub off.

"He's probably the greatest cricketer who has ever played and he's in Cape Town. For us not to get him down to practice is stupid. He's keen to come and watch and see what's happening and share his experiences with some of the younger players who have never met him before," Domingo said. "A lot of guys think of him and go, 'Jeez - can't he play tomorrow? Is he available?' He's a great player and it's great to have him around the team."

While Kallis is most definitely not considering a cricketing comeback, he has had dalliances with coaching through T20 leagues. Kallis has coached at Kolkata Knight Riders and Trinidad in the CPL and although he does not think he wants a full-time role just yet, he admitted it is something he has started to enjoy. "It's very rewarding. Towards the end of my career, I found I liked passing on knowledge to the guys. That's the nice part - seeing the guys' game develop," he said.

One player whose game Kallis has an intricate knowledge of is Hashim Amla, who he saw debut and played alongside for almost a decade. With Amla in the midst of a slump of sorts - he has not scored a century in 11 innings and a fifty in eight - Kallis spent a significant amount of time in his net and gave him "little pointers" on how to ensure he pushes on from a start. Kallis was convinced a big score is looming for the holder of South Africa's highest individual Test score.

"He is hitting it pretty well, he just needs to push on but generally he is hitting it as well as when I was playing," Kallis said. "He has got a few 40s in that and he just hasn't kicked on. That happens. But he is hungry, I can tell you that. I wouldn't be surprised if he went on and got a big hundred in the next Test match or two. It's pretty much assured."

Similarly, Kallis was certain that South Africa are not in danger of slipping into complacency after a convincing win over Sri Lanka in the first Test. It was only a year ago that South Africa were on a downward spiral after losing 3-0 in India and then being beaten by England at home. Kallis believed it was a case of lesson learnt.

"It's nice to see us bouncing back from that," he said. "One thing you can learn from that is that when you do go through good periods like we are going through now, don't give it away. Throw your mind back to India where we were struggling. The guys certainly don't seem complacent, they seem very hungry to keep going. They've learnt from that experience in terms of taking their form forward and not giving it away. They are in a very good space."

South Africa have admitted they feel better about themselves than they have for a long time and that is largely because they have unearthed some depth. From going through the 2015-16 season with many frontline bowlers injured, they now have Vernon Philander back and several others in reserve with Morne Morkel also turning up at the New Year's training. What they have not really found is an allrounder in the Kallis mould and for that alone, even Domingo wishes Kallis was still around.

"As good a batsman as he was we can always scrape together his runs but to scrape together the 15 or 16 overs he bowled is not that easy," Domingo said. "Look at England, they've got Ben Stokes who plays as a fourth seamer. Angelo Mathews bowls 15 overs. Australia have Mitchell Marsh. It is one area where he has been missed."

But there have been signs in recent times that South Africa are finding another way to ensure their main quick bowlers have someone to play a supporting role. "It has presented an opportunity for a spinner to step up," Domingo said. "Instead of the spinner bowling 10 overs the spinner's now bowling 25 overs a day. Kallis' greatness probably limited the opportunities for a spinner. Having him not there now means the spinners have to front up. That's why it's so good to see a guy like Keshav Maharaj come in. We've got the confidence to bowl him 25 overs a day and rotate the three seamers."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  •   Abhranil Hazra on January 5, 2017, 4:50 GMT

    You have an all-rounder sa!! His name is Dwaine Pretorius

  • Bazza_SAF on January 2, 2017, 19:24 GMT

    @luckycountry... Haha try watching some cricket for a change! Kallis always was always able to come on and bowl and break a big partnership. Fair weather bowler.... LOL next thing youll be saying all his 13000 test runs and 11000 ODI runs were lucky runs and all his slip catches were easy too...

  • bhariii on January 2, 2017, 8:46 GMT

    CRICFAN89115866 I agree with u that Kallis is the Best allrounder ever and maybe even the best cricketer ever...but to say that he is better than SACHIN the batsman is wrong...Sachin too had a really good test average and was much better than kallis in both ODIs and t20s so that settles it,also J SRINATH ,ZAHEER KHAN, and M SHAMI and many more have better avg and strike rates in tests than Kalis

  • SamRoy on January 2, 2017, 8:14 GMT

    @CRICFAN89115866 Firstly Ashwin is a bowling all-rounder and a genuine No. 7 batsman. And he scored 2 test 100s in the WI once coming into bat when the team score was 125/5 in the first innings. No way is Ashwin a batting all-rounder. Secondly, Stokes is a marginal batting all-rounder i.e. his batting is slightly better than his bowling. People forget Shakib. He is also a proper all-rounder. Averages 39 with bat and 32 with ball. To compare anyone of this generation to Kallis is a travesty as no one is half as good (in the batting all-rounder category).

  • Cready on January 2, 2017, 7:56 GMT

    Wasn't Newland the last place that Amla scored a 100 and also resigned his captaincy? I think this will be the ground where he will bounce back and get back into form!

  • cricfan89115866 on January 2, 2017, 7:32 GMT

    Amla will be back, that is for sure. What I find more interesting is the all-rounder debate and what will be the team balance be when ABD returns. Surely he must bat at 4/5, and for me, Duminy must go. I think our best approach towards an all-rounder is just to get our bowlers to bat a little and add 120-150 for the last 4 wickets on a good day. JK was a once in a generation type player - a true batting all-rounder. Ashwin and Stokes may come close but their batting is not of the same class on all pitches around the world. Stokes got the 250 in Cape Town yes, but he is not as consistent yet, of the two he probably is the closest to JK. Ashwin does not look like someone who will get a 100 outside of the subcontinent. Shakib is also good but only on the subcontinent. No one from the current subcontinent teams can be said to be a batting all-rounder. He had a higher average that Tendulkar and a better bowling average than any of India's best fast bowlers over the last 15-20 years.

  • Alexk400 on January 2, 2017, 7:02 GMT

    I do not think amla will score any. Herath will get him.

  • siddharth110575 on January 2, 2017, 7:02 GMT

    In my view the stint with captaincy has affected his batting in a negative way. I dont think he ever became the same prolific batsman after quitting captaincy, did he?

  • cricfan56074771 on January 2, 2017, 4:58 GMT

    I think since his T20 stint has effected his batting n Test cricket . hope hs stays on the wicket and play the ball on merit rather than to early .He is Al time greats .

  • cricfan71797012 on January 2, 2017, 4:47 GMT

    Amla is a good batsman but has anyone cared to check how many chances (dropped catches) he used to get at the start of his inning. He is not getting those chances now.

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