Cricket

Jacques Kallis: has he retired too early?

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Kallis drinks to his stellar test career (©GettyImages)
Kallis drinks to his stellar test career (©GettyImages).

Cricket legend Jacques Kallis played his final test match.

The All-Rounder signed off in style as he scored a beautiful 45th Test hundred as South Africa cruised to victory against a battling India side.

Cricket has lost one of its greatest ever players. Ever since Garry Sobers played his final test match in 1974 the sport has been searching for a genuine All-Rounder who has mastered both batting and bowling. It didn't seem possible that there would be a three-pronged All-Rounder like Sobers who would master batting, bowling and fielding as well.

The likes of Botham, Kapil Dev and Wasim Akram have all proved pretenders to the throne, specialising more in one art over the other.

However, when Jacques Kallis's broke through in the late nineties, the search was over.

He has scored 13,289 runs, the third highest of all time, at an average of 55.37, He has taken 292 wickets at an average of 32.65, better than Sobers's bowling average of 34.03. Not only that, he has been one of Cricket's great fielders, taking a sensational 200 test catches, the 200th of which he picked up in his final test.

However, although he reached that milestone, I wonder whether he should have waited a bit longer to have gone past a few others.

It is safe to say that Kallis could have played on for a while longer. The fact that he was able to score a century with such ease suggests that he can still bat at the top level and can still justify his sensational batting average.

In scoring 115 he just went past Rahul Dravid to the third in the all time rankings for most runs scored. Second in the rankings is Ricky Ponting, just eighty-nine runs ahead of Kallis. Not only that, Kallis was only 711 runs away from 14,000 test runs and a mere eight wickets away from 300 test wickets, a feat achieved by only twenty-seven bowlers in the history of the game.

Despite the fact that Jacques now doesn't get much bowling time due to South Africa's world-beating bowling attack, he only needed a few matches to pass that milestone and was only a few series away from passing Ricky Ponting and 14,000 runs as well.

He is still playing One Day Internationals and is keen to play on until the 2015 World Cup so why did he choose not to push on in the longer form of the game and achieve the sensational statistic of 14,000 runs and 300 wickets?

Test cricket is far more physically and mentally demanding but Kallis proved his ability to stay alert in the field and his ability to grind out a century so the reason for his perhaps premature retirement is not a fragmentation of the senses.

Many cricketers have rejected the chance to go past famous milestones: Syd Barnes chose to miss the final test of the 1913-14 tour of South Africa due to his wife's accommodation not being sponsored with 49 wickets; Sir Jack Hobbs retired from First-Class cricket whilst on 199 centuries; Sir Don Bradman famously retired four runs short of 7000 runs and a test average of 100.

Not only that but the Australian finished just 253 runs short of Wally Hammond's test record of 7249 runs. Even Muttiah Muralitharan, who finished with 800 test wickets, risked not reaching that milestone when announcing his final test on 792.

It seems that these historical milestones matter more to the fans than the players and whilst Kallis's carefree attitude to them is admirable, it will always be in the back of many cricket fans' minds that they did not see such an incredible feat as 14,000 runs, 300 wickets and 200 catches achieved.

Ever since Garry Sobers played his final test match in 1974 the sport has been searching for a genuine All-Rounder who has mastered both batting and bowling. It didn't seem possible that there would be a three-pronged All-Rounder like Sobers who would master batting, bowling and fielding as well.

Now that Jacques Kallis has opted out of test cricket, it seems that cricket once again faces a long search for an All-Rounder who has mastered all three aspects of the game.

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Topics:
Cricket
Sachin Tendulkar
South Africa cricket
Jacques Kallis
India cricket
West Indies cricket
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