South Africa news December 25, 2013

Kallis to quit Tests after Durban


Jacques Kallis, one of the game's greatest allrounders, will retire from Test cricket after the Boxing Day match against India. Kallis announced his decision on Wednesday, on the eve of the second Test against India, but stated that he would still like to play the 2015 World Cup for South Africa.

In a statement, Kallis said: "It wasn't an easy decision, with Australia around the corner and the success this team is enjoying, but I feel the time is right. I don't see it as goodbye, I still have a lot of hunger to push South Africa to that World Cup in 2015 if I am fit and performing. The last two years specifically have been a memorable journey with an exceptional group of cricketers. I am fortunate enough to have ended my Test career amongst a group of talented cricketers but, more importantly, friends whom I will cherish for years to come."

Kallis, who made his Test debut against England in December 1995, and has played 165 Tests, scoring 13174 runs at an average of 55.12, with 44 centuries and 58 half-centuries. He is currently fourth on the list of leading run-getters in Test cricket, and is also second on the list of batsmen with most Test centuries, apart from having scored the most runs for South Africa in Tests. Kallis' status as the pre-eminent allrounder of his era stemmed from his contributions as a bowler - 292 Test wickets at an average of 32.53 - and fielder, whose 199 catches ranks him only behind Rahul Dravid in the Test list. He has one more match to add to those numbers.

Batting has been the reason for questions surrounding Kallis' form. He last scored a century more than a year ago, in November 2012, against Australia in Brisbane. In 2013, he has scored just 194 runs with no hundreds - a first for Kallis in a calendar year - and only two half-centuries. He has been dismissed in single figures in five of his last seven innings, twice for a duck, and on four occasions playing across the line and being struck lbw.

On South Africa's recent visit to the UAE, Kallis had the leanest series of his career. He did not get into double figures once and did not take a single wicket either. Asked then whether there were concerns about how much longer Kallis would play, Graeme Smith had dismissed them. "He still has a great desire to play for South Africa," he said.

Kallis' struggles were brushed off as nothing more than rustiness after a long lay off. While most of the team hadn't played competitively for three months, Kallis was coming in from a much longer break that started when the IPL ended in May. South Africa did not play Test cricket in that time and Kallis, who initially made himself available for the Champions Trophy, withdrew from the squad citing personal reasons. He had not played fifty-over cricket for South Africa for 15 months at that stage, because of his workload management. He also played no part in the tour of Sri Lanka in August, in keeping with the policy of leaving him out of bilateral limited-overs series.

Kallis' wish to win a World Cup medal had not dimmed. So at the end of that month, after a meeting with new coach Russell Domingo, Kallis recommitted to the ODI squad. Domingo announced that Kallis would play in most of South Africa's ODIs in the lead-up to 2015, starting with the home series against India.

He played in the hastily organised home series against Pakistan and celebrated his comeback with a half-century. Kallis has turned out in three ODIs since then, sitting out of the dead-rubbers against both Pakistan and India, scoring 26 runs and claiming three wickets.

South Africa do not play any one-day cricket until next July against Zimbabwe, which means Kallis will disappear from the international arena for at least seven months after this Test. Following that, they have a five-match series against Australia and another five matches against West Indies at home before the 2015 World Cup.

If Kallis plays in all those matches, he will turn out 13 more times for South Africa before the tournament. That scarcity is something Russell Domingo, South Africa's coach, said the team would take some getting used to because Kallis has been a constant in the dressing room. "The impact Jacques has made on South African cricket has been immense, not just as a player but as a human being," Domingo said. "I'm not sure we will ever see another player of that stature very soon. Jacques' calmness, maturity and presence in the change room will sorely be missed and hopefully he will still be able to play a role in this team's success in the near future. He has ambitions of playing in the 2015 World Cup and it will be important for us to manage him accordingly so that he is in prime form leading into the tournament."

Haroon Lorgat, Cricket South Africa's chief executive, praised Kallis, calling him South African cricket's "Rock of Gibraltar". "He has been a stalwart for many years and South Africa's recent triumphs and greatness have been built around him. He is a legend and his statistics speak volumes," Lorgat said. "Jacques has been ever present for the Proteas in the past 18 years and it is fitting that his final Test should be on the same ground as the one on which he made his debut against England back in 1995."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on December 28, 2013, 23:09 GMT

    Kallis is and will remain in my view the best and most technically correct white batsman I've ever seen.These are the reasons why. If you wanted or needed a guy to stick arround to either set up a match with runs to win it or to save one then Kallis would be it every time. If you are a cricket purist who just enjoys watching the art & craft of quality batting for long periods Kallis is the man you'd go to see. If you are a young cricketer making your way in the game and you want to bat with a perfect coaching manual techique then watch Kallis. If you want to work on your game to be the best you can be - by improving and maintaining your averages - & act on and off the field with class, grace, & humility then remember his all round contribution to & for the game. Finally if you want to achieve cricketing 'immortality' then think of Jacques Henry Kallis!! he quite simply has to go down as one of the greatest cricketers of any, of this, and of all time.

  • Peter on December 28, 2013, 15:02 GMT

    The best batsman of the past 20 years considering his bowling and fielding duties only made it more tiring on him when he was not batting.

    Sobers was better but Kallis and K. Miller were on a par

  • BG on December 28, 2013, 8:29 GMT

    Whenever I contemplate my World Best Ever Eleven (come on, we've all done it) I have to break rank and have to have two all rounders. I can't separate Sobers from kallis and both deserve to be there.

  • mahjut on December 27, 2013, 16:41 GMT

    Goodbye fella, given me some of my best memories of cricket!!!

  • Bryn on December 27, 2013, 4:40 GMT

    easily south africas greatest player and arguably the greatest allrounder of all time probably along with sobers and miller. SA are going to struggle without him I think

  • Bryn on December 27, 2013, 4:35 GMT

    smart, get out before mitch and company come over. all seriousness what an amazing player the fact that he averaged 55 for his career and was still bowling at age 38 is pretty unbelievable. south Africa's greatest

  • Al on December 26, 2013, 21:04 GMT

    Agree with @Boytjie84 - Greatest cricketer of all time! The stats don't lie! He is to South Africa what Zaheer Khan and 10dulkar combined would be for India! Better than 2 world class players...

  • Nagesh on December 26, 2013, 19:52 GMT

    It seems that Kallis' competencies were designed for the longer format with his skill and gamesmanship clearly tuned for tireless perseverance - being a workhorse he is. Considering that and the fact that being an all-rounder in ODIs - where the game has, in the recent times, changed to favor pure specialist bowlers and batsmen - Kallis should've called it a day on the ODIs and continued on with the longer one for a while. I believe its a strange predicament for SA to have him around in ODIs and "not exactly" use him as a specialist bowler while silently ruing a specialist in his spot. He fits into the t-shirt and yet does not wear it !

  • Dummy4 on December 26, 2013, 18:49 GMT

    Cricket has been enriched because a man such as him played the game. In an era where we have specialist batsmen and bowlers, the role of the all rounder has diminished. Gone are the days when Imran Khan, Kapil Dev, Ian Botham and Richard Hadlee changed the course of a game with either bat or ball and often both. Kallis demonstrated that it was possible to do both effectively and for that he will be remembered fondly. For being a gentleman who played the game with grace, he will have enduring respect and admiration.

  • Athul on December 26, 2013, 15:07 GMT

    Greatest all rounder ever to have played the game.A legend and a complete cricketer.Its easy to believe that SA was playing 2 men named Kallis,one a skilled bowler and the other a class batsmen,than to believe that one player with superhuman skills scored over 13,000 runs,44 100's and also took close to 300 wickets.I salute this legend!My favorite player.The greatest this great game has ever seen!