Kallis epitomises value of genuine all-rounder
Is Kallis better than Tendulkar? AAP Image/Andrew Brownbill
How good is Jacques Kallis? The ageless South African all-rounder always seems to be in the background when the accolades are handed out.
That was the case again yesterday as Hashim Amla thrust himself into the spotlight against England. Amla’s unbeaten 311 was the highest individual score ever compiled by a South African, and the nation’s first triple century.
His majestic innings was quite rightly the centre of attention.
At the other end of the pitch, Kallis compiled a typically classy 182 not out. This was his 43rd Test century, leaving him second only to Sachin Tendulkar on the all-time list.
Tendulkar may be considered the second best batsman of all time, but Kallis cannot be far behind in any objective assessment. Kallis’ batting average is slightly higher than Tendulkar’s in both Test and one-day international cricket.
Of course, Kallis is also a top class bowler, having taken 276 Test wickets at a respectable average of 32. In my native New Zealand, that record would be good enough to write you into the history books as a genuine strike bowler.
There are remarkably few outstanding all-rounders in world cricket. Most stars of the game are either specialist batsmen or bowlers, and most decent all-rounders are clearly stronger in one discipline.
Guys like Andrew Flintoff and Daniel Vettori, proper all-rounders, have been fantastic players in their own right. But none of them come close to matching Kallis’ quality or consistency.
Here we have a player who could genuinely justify his selection in any squad as a specialist in either discipline.
The success of Kallis’ all-round record is virtually unprecedented, and elevates him to a higher place in the pecking order of cricketing greats than any other player of the modern era.
Given a choice between Kallis and a specialist star like Ponting, Tendulkar or McGrath, you would have to be plain nuts not to pick the South African.
He contributes more to his team than any specialist ever could. A bad day with the bat can be offset by a brilliant session with the ball, and vice versa.
Any team would benefit immeasurably from the sort of balance that Kallis brings to a lineup.
He may not be as dominating as Shane Warne or as majestic as Tendulkar, but his contribution to the cause is arguably even more valuable.