South Africa’s Jacques Kallis, like Sachin Tendulkar of India or for that matter Ricky Ponting of Australia, epitomises the art of perfect batsmanship.
His second successive century against Pakistan in the series here on Saturday, after a collapse initiated by debutant paceman Tanvir Ahmed, raised his profile even further.
In an era in which all-rounders are rare, he is truly a giant amongst the pigmies. With over 11,000 runs at both Test and ODI level and over 250 Test wickets, Kallis remains one of the greats in the game carrying on in the same tradition as some of his predecessors before him.
Tall and powerfully built, Kallis when on song is a delight to watch whether facing a fiery burst from a fast bowler or a spinner’s wily turn; a definite reminder of the days when great men like Imran Khan, Ian Botham, Kapil Dev and Richard Hadlee ruled the arena.
Unquestionably he would be remembered, if and when he hangs his boots, as not only one of the best cricketers that his country has produced but one of the best of our time.
Isolation from the game for 21 years because of ‘apartheid’ did not seem to have done Kallis’ country much harm when they returned in 1991 on the international scene with as much authority and strength as they showed when thrown out of the game after their 4-0 series win against Australia in 1970 under Dr Ali Bacher.
Proteas Eddie Barlow, Mike Proctor and Barry Richards as well as their exiles like Tony Greig, Allan Lamb and Robin Smith — who played with as much gusto on the English circuit — were all tremendously talented players.
Pity that men like Barlow, Richards or Proctor did not play much at Test level. If only they had the opportunity to play their cricket against every nation — whether black or white — their cricket history would have been even more illustrious.
I am lucky that I watched most of them in their darkest period of the game during isolation.
One of the greatest batsman of South Africa that I watched during the isolation was Graeme Pollock, a left-hander of pristine quality. Had ‘apartheid’ not taken the toll he would have ended as one of the best that ever was.
It was in 1965 that I first watched South Africa play in a series against England, their last tour to the country before being ousted. I remember Pollock making 125 at Trent-Bridge in South Africa’s victory there.
He was tall and domineering as he lunged to drive past cover or leaned back to cut and pull with awesome power, giving little if any chance to the bowlers like Kallis does now.
His brother Peter Pollock was also in that team and bowled with lot of pace, emulated later by his gifted son Shaun when South Africa was allowed back into the game.
From 1889 when South Africa played their first ever Test at Port Elizabeth against England to now, barring those isolation years, men like Dudley Nourse, Bacher, Richards, Proctor, Pollock, Kirsten, Smith and Donald have all done them proud, but none more than the colossus of present day called Jacques Kallis.
Offical website : http://www.kallis.co.za/