Kallis commits to more ODIs for South Africa
Jacques Kallis has committed to playing ODIs for South Africa on a more regular basis, as he looks to stay in the team's plans in the build-up to the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. The coach Russell Domingo hopes to have Kallis back for the home ODIs against India later in the year, but cautioned that his workload will still be monitored, given his recent history with injuries.
"Playing for my country has always been both a huge honour and a privilege," Kallis said after meeting Domingo on Tuesday morning. "It remains my aspiration to be available for the 2015 World Cup but, at the same time I know as an allrounder approaching my 38th birthday, I will need to assess my future in the game season by season.
"At the moment I am feeling mentally and physically refreshed and I am looking forward to carry on playing for my country as long as possible."
Kallis, 37, hasn't played an ODI since February 2012 and Domingo's predecessor Gary Kirsten had deemed it "no longer necessary" for him to figure in bilateral series because he was too important to South Africa's Test ambitions. Kirsten had left the door open for Kallis to make a return in major events but Domingo stated that if the allrounder still had hopes of playing the next World Cup, he needed to play sufficient ODI cricket.
"We will manage Jacques' career season by season and take it game by game," Domingo told ESPNcricinfo. "There is no set number of ODIs he will play before the World Cup, but the closer to the tournament we get, the more he will play.
"Forget about his runs and wickets, to have someone of Jacques' experience - whether he makes the World Cup squad or not - will be very important for the developing of younger players. No-one is guaranteed a place in the side and no-one is guaranteed a place in the World Cup squad. It all depends on fitness and form.
"He looks very fit, he has been doing a lot of running. It was good to talk about his ambitions. We will have another formal discussion at the end of the season to plot the way forward."
Kallis has been injured in each of the last five Test series South Africa have played. His' last match for South Africa was the Cape Town Test against Pakistan in February. He missed the third Test of that series due to injury and the one-dayers that followed. He took part in the IPL but opted out of the Champions Trophy despite initially indicating interest in playing.
In Kallis' absence, Domingo had begun the process of identifying batsmen for slots in the top order, with JP Duminy, AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis marked for Nos 3, 4 and 5 respectively. However, Domingo said this arrangement wasn't set in stone and that Kallis would be accommodated anywhere at the top of the order.
"Jacques can bat at No. 3 or No. 4 and maybe AB can bat at No. 5 so this doesn't really change our plans," Domingo said. "We will try and find some balance. There will still be a lot of opportunities for younger players."
Haroon Lorgat, Cricket South Africa CEO, welcomed Kallis' decision to commit to the ODI squad. "Jacques is an extraordinary player who appreciates the ODI team-building process that is currently under way," Lorgat said. "His availability is welcomed and CSA will do everything possible to help him achieve his personal ambitions while building a new generation ODI team."