South Africa news March 25, 2013

Kallis likely to be available for Champions Trophy


Jacques Kallis is close to committing himself to South Africa's Champions Trophy squad despite not playing an ODI in over a year. Kallis last played a fifty-over match in February 2012 and is no longer available for bilateral one-day series but could be back into contention for ICC tournaments, as he did for the World Twenty20 last September.

After South Africa lost their January ODI series against New Zealand, Gary Kirsten revealed he was in discussions with Kallis as the team hoped to step up preparations for June's Champions Trophy. On conclusion of the Pakistan series, Kirsten disclosed that talks are still ongoing and Kallis is being persuaded.

"Negotiations are going well," Kirsten said. "Jacques Kallis is not going to play one-day cricket anymore because we value him in Test matches too much but we reserve the right to call him up in certain tournaments. The Champions Trophy is the last major tournament before the World Cup and I am excited that he may make himself available for that."

Of the many achievements on Kallis' CV, the one missing is a World Cup medal and he has previously said he would like to play until he can add one. But the next edition of that tournament is still two years away and a recent spate of injuries may make that too distant a goal. Even though the Champions Trophy is a watered down version of a World Cup, it may be Kallis' last chance to obtain ICC silverware and although it will not replace the biggest event, two Champions' Trophy medals (South Africa won the 1998 version) may be some consolation.

Bringing Kallis in cold may sit uneasily with some, though. While Kirsten maintains that the 17 years Kallis has spent as an international cricketer is enough to justify slotting him into the starting XI immediately, he is also aware that it's a move that could backfire.

For that reason, Kirsten's focus for the ODIs South Africa played this summer was on blooding those who could take over should the Kallis trump card not work. In the series against Pakistan, it seems South Africa coped better without Kallis than they have before and Kirsten was impressed with how they progressed.

Colin Ingram was installed into his batting spot at No.3 while Ryan McLaren was handed rope and told he would get a sustained run as the first-choice allrounder. Both performed well, McLaren perhaps more so, and proved they can step up.

More tellingly, the middle-order firmed up in the absence of a player like Kallis which has given South Africa an added boost ahead of the Champions Trophy. "This was a good stepping stone in terms of where we want to go. Guys like Farhaan Behardien and David Miller; people who have not done well for us in the past have been given a run and shown they are capable. It's good that we have competition and we have created depth," Kirsten said.

Batting depth was South Africa's obvious worry especially because it seemed as though they had endless supply of bowlers coming through, but creating options with ball was also important. Kallis' two-in-one role meant that when he was taken out of the mix, it also left the team without an additional bowler.

Kirsten believes they have now found a solution for that. "To have a sixth bowler in your team is crucial and we're getting there. AB used Farhaan Berhardien in Benoni and he made an impact straight away. You need someone who can take pace off the ball and bowl wicket to wicket," he said. De Villiers also tried Ingram, a move that backfired in that situation but one that he may look at again. JP Duminy, who is expected to recover in time for the Champions Trophy, is another option.

Another gain made was in the leadership core, which Kallis was not overtly part of but would have been tacitly involved on the sheer weight of his experience. Without him, Johan Botha and Graeme Smith in the last match, to lean on, de Villiers was forced to do things his way.

Not only did he manage, but he juggled it successfully with his wicketkeeping duties and took his batting to a new level as he became man of the series. "AB has made great strides in his captaincy," Kirsten said. "This has been an important series for him in all components. He has had a great couple of games."

With all the development, it seems as though Kirsten is slowly transferring the successful culture of the Test team onto the ODI squad. But he will have to wait more than two months to see if the transition is complete.

South Africa dispersed yesterday and will reconvene at the end of May to prepare for the Champions Trophy. They have a short stay in Holland, which Kirsten says will be similar to the trip they took in Switzerland before the Test series against England, before the actual competition.

Almost all the players, including Kallis, will have match time under their belts either at the IPL or on the county circuit which Kirsten can only hope will be enough as he tries to break South Africa's major tournament trophy drought.

"When players are at the IPL, they are fully involved and fully contracted. It's very difficult to have any control over your players during that time. Ideally, I'd love to get our squad together a month before Champions Trophy to prepare but that's not the way cricket is," Kirsten said.

Kallis is one of the few who can remember a time when breaks were more frequent and will want to show that even without having played ODI cricket, he can still do it and win.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 27, 2013, 13:01 GMT

    If Sachin has to carry expectation of 1 Billion Indians, atleast he will be inspired / motivated to Play cricket. So then, Kallis will lack Motivation as not much People do watch cricket there (compared to India).

    So, pls do stop These sorts of arguements as everyone could start bringing issues like this...

    But the most important achievement of Kallis is his T20 cricket. A cricketer whose batting style wasn't suited for T20 cricket, proved to the world that if he wishes, he could Play any sort of game (only that he didn't wish till then)...

    Also, it showed one more Thing. Opening a batting is lot easier then playing in middle order (not for everyone though), coz he scored a few boundaries during field restrictions and just rotated the strike (at less than 100) aftr that still ending up with a good SR (above 100).

    So, it also matters at which Position do u bat. If u want, go and check Sachin's bat Ave and SR at positions 3 to 7...

  • Dave on March 27, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    My team would be Amla, Smith, Kallis, AB, Duminy/Behardien, Miller/Faf, Peterson, McLaren/Kleinveldt,Morkel, Steyn, Tsotsobe.

    This would be the best team all depends on JP having recovered completely and what the pitch looks like. re McLaren or Kleinveldt. The rest of the team should and will play. Lots of permutations, Ingram, Phangiso and De Kok (1 from these 3 and that would be the 15). Unfortunately Ingram has to be dropped.

  • Dummy4 on March 27, 2013, 9:15 GMT

    My team would be Elgar, Amla, Kallis, AB, Ingram\Dumminy, Miller, De Kock, Peterson, Kleinveldt\De Lange, Steyn, Totsobe

    3 front line seamers with Kallis as the fourth and Peterson, Elgar and Dumminy as spin options or Ingram as a slow\medium pacer similar to what Berhardien did in the last ODI match.

    We really dont have the luxury of all rounders like Hansie, Klusener, Pollock but we do have the best all rounder of all time Kallis.

  • Dummy4 on March 27, 2013, 9:00 GMT

    Who cares about a history lesson regarding what happened in passed WC's and comparissons betw Sashin and Kallis. SA's batting line up is still shaky with too many new faces that havent cemented their place.

    Ingram, Berhardien, Faf, Mclaren Peterson, Abbott, De lange, Miller, Klienveldt, De Kock, Miller and Elgar are all still fairly new and fact is they all still have a long way to go. What's sad is that our lack of depht in the ODI format shows by the fact we actually considering Dumminy straight after his injury and into the world cup. (no doubt he'd add value though). This showed in both the NZ and Pakistan series.

    Kallis would add stability to the batting and bowling line up and SA would have 3 pillars to bat around, namely Amla, Kaliis and AB. With Amla and AB and Kallis in the top 4, De kock should bat around 6 or 7 with Miller\Dumminy as finishers. Elgar is an openning option and also a good spin option.

  • Dummy4 on March 27, 2013, 7:05 GMT

    all I hear from indians is the hope of 1 billion on sachins shoulders. In reality he's playing for the passion and enjoyment of the game and his livelyhood, Just like the rest of the worlds professional cricketers. They play to win and wil do anything to perform even stand when edging the ball. So please the rest of us know what cricket is about. Kallis is a must. He have won games for us by scoring runs when he was the only banker in the team. he improved his scoring rate and still to one eyed supporters of cricket he is not good enough. Well keep that one eye on your Sachin with a billion people pressure on his shoulders.

  • Dummy4 on March 26, 2013, 20:15 GMT

    All GREAT players adapt and improvise whatever the format, competition, and statistical variables. Kallis has nothing to prove in or for ODIs...his batting and bowling record is as good as anyone's and better than most. However and if having been virtually 'retired' from 50 over cricket a player of his class and stature makes himself subsequently available for a tournament that he might not otherwise be considered for it would be sheer folly NOT to take him!! CSA simply do not have a player to either usurp or replace him but the true benchmark of an all rounders value is if you removed one of the facet skills from his game would he get into the national side with the other(s)? The answer every time is YES he would!! Remember he was once dropped from the T/20 squad and admitted that he didn't either rate or was interested in playing it. Several IPL series later he is now one of the highest all time run scorers in that tournament & he is also still a quality 'go to' bowler!!

  • Jay on March 26, 2013, 18:02 GMT

    In the last IPL(I think it was the last one where KKR won), Kallis scored 68 off about 55 deliveries. But he was there till the near end and helped them win. Even in T20s, holding up one end is important as he showed in that game. When you have a Kallis at one end, no matter how slow he is scoring, he is effectively reducing the chances of the opposition taking a wicket by 50%. This is a basic rule of cricket and anyone saying he is too slow for ODIs should learn more about cricket.

  • haris on March 26, 2013, 17:33 GMT

    @jb633: Kallis remains an automatic choice for anyone and any team playing anywhere. Stats only tell part of the story but i don't think that the character Kallis has shown over the years playing so consistently for his country anyone else would have done. Every player has some positives and negatives but showing halo effects isn't much of an answer to anyone. One doesn't have to worry about commitments from players like Kallis or Sachin, they perform because they love to not because they are told to.

  • Jon on March 26, 2013, 17:12 GMT

    Kallis is a class test cricketer but his role in the ODI side should depend on how fit he is to bowl. He wasted too many balls when he is batting and in this format has never been as good as Amla and ABDV. If he is not going to bowl I don't think he should be an authomatic shoe in for the Champions trophy. @TommyTucker, yeah but in all fairness Kallis has never had to deal with the same pressure as Tendulkar. Imagine the hopes of 1 billion people resting on you every time you go out to bat. I am not an Indian fan but have the utmost respect of how Tendulkar has carried himself over the years.

  • Bongane on March 26, 2013, 15:27 GMT

    Cant wait 2 see king kallis back on the odi team

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