Cape Town – South Africa’s retired Test legend Jacques Kallis has warned the Proteas “to play to their full potential” if they want to break a 44-year barren run at home in Test series against Australia.
Kallis has “no doubt” Graeme Smith’s Test side, who will be without the champion all-rounder for the first time in 15 years, can be the first post-isolation South African team to beat the Aussies when the much-anticipated three-match series starts next week.
But there can be no room for error according to Kallis, with the Australians, fresh from whitewashing England 5-0 in the Ashes, equally capable of maintaining their record here in South Africa.
“I have no doubt that South Africa will win the series if they play to their full potential,” Kallis told the Cape Times on Wednesday. “If South Africa are off their game, just a little, I also have little doubt that Australia will beat them if they do not play to their potential, and Australia do. They need to be on top of their game.”
Although not officially part of the Test squad any longer, Kallis will stay close to the team, joining the Proteas for a two-day camp in the bushveld as part of the preparations for the first Test at Centurion on February 12. Having played 164 Tests for South Africa, the current Proteas management obviously value the experience the 38-year-old gained over that period, and hope to utilise his input in team planning meetings.
Kallis could not over emphasise the importance of South Africa’s build-up to the Centurion Test. He claimed that the desire and hunger of the Proteas is evident by the fact that they opted to play a three-day practice match against a SA Composite XI at the Wanderers this week.
Australia’s only tour match, in rain-hit Potchefstroom, was abandoned last week leaving the tourists with only net practice before SuperSport Park.
“The first Test will be crucial at Centurion. Hopefully, South Africa will get off to a good start, because I believe the first Test will set the tone for the series. The preparation is the key aspect, and I think the warm-up game was the right way to go because South Africa can’t afford a slow start.”
Kallis, though, can’t get too involved with the Proteas mission as he still has unfinished business here in Cape Town – the RamSlam Challenge T20 final on Sunday at Newlands.
National coach Russell Domingo must be envying his Cape Cobras counterpart Paul Adams right now, as Adams was able to convince Kallis to play in the domestic showpiece.
And Kallis has lost none of the professionalism he has showed throughout his career, as he had a lengthy net session at Newlands on Thursday. He will be back to hit some more balls this morning again, before flying up to Johannesburg to join his former teammates on safari.
“I hadn’t really been in the nets since the Boxing Day Test and my last hit was in the T20 against the Boks, so I thought it was only right that I had a couple of nets,” Kallis said.
“I think it went really well, I felt I was hitting it nicely. Paul phoned me and asked me if I could add some experience to the Cobras line-up, so hopefully I can contribute with some runs and wickets too.”
Although Kallis has retired from Test cricket, he is still available to the Proteas in the limited-overs formats of the game, with a clear goal of playing in the 2015 World Cup, while he is also in the auction for the upcoming Indian Premier League.
Is Sunday’s game then just a warm-up before the IPL?
“No, no ... it’s always a nice feeling to play in a final at Newlands. A final is an important game and it’s a big game for the Cobras. I’m definitely taking the game seriously and giving 100 percent. I want to be involved in all areas, hopefully I get to bowl a couple of overs too,” said Kallis, who has enjoyed playing golf since hanging up his whites.
* The Dolphins and Titans RamSlam T20 playoff match in Durban last night was abandoned due to rain. The match will be replayed at Kingsmead tonight, starting at 6pm.