Smith appreciates Kallis' 'honesty'
Graeme Smith, the former South Africa captain, has said that Jacques Kallis retired from international cricket because he realised he might no longer have the mental strength to last till the 2015 World Cup, and that he could not face the possibility of letting his team down.
Kallis had quit Tests late last year and decided to call time on his limited-overs career after making 0, 1 and 4 in Sri Lanka earlier this month.
"I've been calling him an 'old man' and asking him what he's doing out there, but I had a hint that he might decide to retire after he came back from Sri Lanka and realised that it would take a lot of hard work for him to get through to the World Cup," Smith told sport24. "When you're playing full-time it's easier, but focus is very crucial at international level and I think he was wondering if his mind is really on it.
"He really wanted to win the World Cup, but I've always appreciated his honesty and I think he realised that he might let the team down. He was honest enough to realise he might not be strong enough to make it through to next year, especially in terms of bowling and mentally."
After Kallis' return to the ODI side last year, the challenge for South Africa had been to build the side around him but Smith said the timing of his exit six months before the World Cup had given the team time to make up for his absence.
"He's given the team enough space tactically to fill his gap with other guys but it's obviously always sad when players of his calibre move on. But he's had an incredible career which we can all celebrate and look back on fondly. He brought so much happiness and South African cricket got a lot out of Jacques in so many different eras."
Smith said that Kallis was among the greatest to have played the game. "It's always difficult to compare players from different eras, but if you consider the amount of cricket Jacques played, the length of consistency at the top of the game and all the different conditions and challenges he performed in, then he's got to be up there with the best who've ever played the game. In time, I'm sure his reputation will only go from strength to strength."
Hashim Amla, the South Africa Test captain, also praised Kallis, calling him a "one-in-50-years" cricketer. "Jacques was a one-in-50-years cricketer who had a huge influence on so many Proteas players over a twenty-year period. I was privileged to have been one of those. You appreciate the magnitude of the cricketer not only when you look at his record but also when you play alongside him."