Perfect ending for ‘irreplaceable’ Kallis

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The series win against India was the perfect ending to a fairytale career for the irreplaceable Jacques Kallis. Kingsmead. Photo by Duif du Toit

South African cricket’s greatest ever player sailed into Test cricket’s sunset yesterday, briefly hoisted on Graeme Smith’s and Morné Morkel’s shoulders, and he even found the time to stop for a sponsor’s pint at “Castle Corner”, during his final lap of honour.

“Not in my wildest dreams,” he said, when asked if he had ever imagined he would have the remarkable career he enjoyed.

“When I was playing in my back garden, with my sister, I dreamt of playing for South Africa. But no one dreams of playing 166 Test matches for your country.”

The Proteas gave Kallis the perfect send-off, breaking their Durban hoodoo and sealing the series with a 10-wicket victory that was built, fittingly, on Jacques Kallis foundations.

“In your final Test match, I can only imagine the emotions you must be going through. For him to find that zone, that place which he performed in for most of his career, is a credit to him,” Smith sighed, saluting Kallis’ 45th Test century.

MS Dhoni, in between likening the Decision Review System to having a security guard watching your every move, and labelling his team as having “good ingredients”, admitted that Kallis was the main attraction in the South African menu.

“If we had Kallis in our team, then we could have played two spinners and three seamers, including Jacques. But he is a luxury that most teams don’t have, and South Africa will have to find someone to replace him.”

Smith, facing up to the reality of life without his talisman, was rather frank.

“I don’t think we can ever replace Jacques. The sooner we face up to that reality, the better,” he warned, before adding that whoever steps into the breach shouldn’t be labelled as the “next Jacques Kallis”.

Many assumed that Kallis would sign off at Newlands, against South Africa’s greatest foe, Australia.

“Three or four months was a bit far away,” he explained.

“I’ve always been one of those guys who give 100percent for everything, and I think I lost that edge for Test cricket. They say you can wake up one day, and you just know,” Kallis added simply. “You know, last Christmas was my first one at home in 18 years, which was a bit of an eye-opener,” he admitted.

“I’ve never played the game for records and stats. I’m very proud of what I have achieved, and it’s just been a fantastic journey,” he explained.

“I always said when I started playing for South Africa, that when I left, I hoped to leave the team in a better place,” he added sincerely.

That much he has done, having watched the Proteas climb to No1 in the Test rankings, and he himself recognised as the greatest all-rounder of his era.

Kallis is not quite lost to South African cricket, and though he plans to get more involved in mentoring and coaching through his foundation, there is still that 2015 World Cup dream that he is chasing.

“This will free me up and give me more time to work on my one-day skills, which I am very excited about. I will play a bit more Twenty20 around the world, but I will also look to play as much one-day cricket between now and the World Cup ... to be the best player that I can be,” he resolved.

But, for now, Kallis can look forward to a reunion on the fairways of South Africa with his brother in arms, Mark Boucher.

And after 18 years of sterling service, no one would begrudge him that.

“I’m looking forward to a bit more golf. My next goal is to work my way down from a three to a scratch.” - The Star

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