Cape Town – A lasting image of South African cricket for me is the sight of champion fast bowler Allan Donald going down in a heap with a hamstring strain in the Wanderers Test against Australia in 2002. Donald, who leaped a like gazelle in his prime, was reduced to being stretchered off – an unfitting end to a glorious Test career.
Donald was not done yet though, he wanted one last bite at the cherry, at the World Cup on South African soil a year later. Perhaps he had sufficient selfish reasons to be indulged, considering he was at the centre of the heartache four years earlier at Edgbaston. However, there was no fairytale ending there for “White Lightning” either, with South Africa being eliminated before the knockout stages. Donald’s legacy was scarred with many laying the blame at his door for a couple of the round-robin defeats.
My fear is that Jacques Kallis could suffer the same fate, and while he is physically in good shape at the moment, a 38-year-old Kallis is just one outstretched limb away of suffering a similar ending.
The scenario facing Kallis is very similar to Donald’s situation a decade ago. South Africa face Australia in a Test series in the new year, and there is also a World Cup in Australasia the following season.
Although Kallis is being physically managed better than Donald was back then – there was no rotation of fast bowlers at the beginning of the millennium – the all-rounder has lost some his edge upon his return from an 18-month one-day sabbatical. Batsmen love to bat, and at this point it seems that his zest to occupy the crease for long periods of time has diminished.
Kallis could of course prove us all wrong – like he has done countless times in his career – with a run-spree during the India Test series, but it is becoming increasingly obvious that his desire to be involved in the 2015 World Cup could just be one step too far.
Discussing the future of one of South Africa’s all-time greats is always a potentially divisive issue. There are some who believe that Kallis has earned the right to go when he chooses, while others believe that the national selectors are there to do a job.
During Australia’s heady days, we saw that nobody was untouchable and that they were even prepared to drop the legendary Steve Waugh prior to the 2003 World Cup. What was the result? The Aussies went through the World Cup unbeaten to win a consecutive title.
Personally, I would not like to see Kallis dropped.
His contribution to South African cricket over the past 15 years is immeasurable, as evidenced by the mountain of statistics that documents his stature in the world game.
Instead, if I could be granted one Christmas wish from Santa this festive season, it would be for Kallis to sit down with Proteas coach Russell Domingo, Graeme Smith (Kallis has always had a close bond with the Test captain), ODI skipper AB de Villiers and Cricket South Africa chief executive Haroon Lorgat, and plan a retirement strategy from all forms of the game after the Australian Test series next year.
Kallis has been a part of history-making away Test series wins in Australia and England, but he has never klapped the Baggy Greens on his home turf. It may not go according to script, considering Michael Clarke’s team’s resurgence in the Ashes currently going on Down Under, but surely getting one over the arch-enemy would be a sufficient carrot for Kallis to lift himself mentally for the challenge.
Kallis, as like Sachin Tendulkar received from his adoring Indian fans, deserves a dignified send-off from the South African public, not one where his right to be in the Proteas team is discussed on a daily basis.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
@MClarke23 (Michael Clarke) Anyone playing a team sport out there remember this TEAM before yourself will always win! That is how we roll!!!
WHO TO FOLLOW
@MClarke23 – Follow the Australian captain as he expresses his delight at reclaiming the Ashes.
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