Who will inherit Kallis’ throne?

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iol spt dec21 Kallis_file

AFP

Ken Borland asks: Wholl inherit Kallis throne? Picture: Alexander Joe/file picture

It might not be as evident given the current run-drought that Jacques Kallis is going through, but the all-rounder remains a vital player for South Africa because of the balance he brings to the composition of the XI and the options he makes possible.

Kallis may have scored just 42 runs in his last seven innings, but he has been chipping in as a bowler with the odd valuable wicket and his share of overs in a four-man pace attack.

And South Africa had extra reason to feel most grateful for his presence in the first Sunfoil Test against India when Morné Morkel twisted his ankle in the 14th over of the tourists’ second innings.

It showed the importance of having an all-rounder in your team and India almost paid the price for not having one in the South African first innings before Ishant Sharma triggered an inexplicable collapse.

Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla looked in firm control as they added 81 for the second wicket to take South Africa to 118/1 at tea, but in the fourth over of the final session of the second day, Ishant removed Amla and Kallis in successive balls, sparking the dramatic loss of five wickets for 16 runs.

But one felt at the time that it was a final throw of the dice for India and their three seamers, who had toiled without much reward until then.

If Smith and Amla could have just seen off Ishant’s third spell of the day, Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni would have been forced to use ineffective spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and part-timer Virat Kohli for much of the final session.

But just how much cricket is left in Kallis’s body? It seems that South Africa may have to do without him in the fairly near future.

How do they replace such a two-in-one cricketer?

Fortunately, for some reason, South Africa have historically thrown up plenty of great all-rounders – Aubrey Faulkner, Clive Rice, Mike Procter, Eddie Barlow, Brian McMillan, Shaun Pollock, Trevor Goddard, Jimmy Sinclair, Lance Klusener, Nicky Bojé and Alan Kourie all spring to mind.

Even the non-racial cricket teams who were denied fair exposure had the likes of Tiffie Barnes, Dick Abed, Solly Chotia and Haroon Lorgat.

And it would probably make sense to replace Kallis with another all-rounder.

Pollock, who scored 3781 Test runs and took 421 wickets (a feat only matched by Sir Richard Hadlee, Kapil Dev and Shane Warne), knows a fair bit about the value of an all-rounder.

He believes that is the route South Africa should go to replace Kallis.

“My thoughts are that every batsmen should shift up one spot and an all-rounder who can contribute with both bat and ball should slot in at No 7.

“You want to get depth in both departments.

“That could be a pace bowling all-rounder like Vernon Philander or Ryan McLaren, or even another spinner like Robin Peterson, depending on conditions,” Pollock told Independent Newspapers yesterday.

And it is Philander who perhaps has the inside track after he scored his third Test half-century – all under pressure – in the Wanderers Test, taking his batting average to 22.20.

He is potentially a better batsman than that average suggests, however, with two first-class centuries to his name including a highest score of 168.

Pollock said he believes Philander would relish the extra responsibility of batting seven and still being a leading strike bowler.

“Vernon has shown promise with the bat, he’s able to get a few runs and he’ll want to contribute with both bat and ball. He will see himself as able to do both jobs, I think he’d really want it,” Pollock said.

But when the goodbyes have finally been said to Kallis, it is the great man’s runs that are going to be missed most and whoever replaces him is going to need to average at least around 30 with the bat. - Saturday Star


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