Kallis: The oft-forgotten ODI colossus

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A perceived inability to change the momentum of matches in the same fashion as some of the more flashy contemporaries – like Sir Garfield Sobers and Sachin Tendulkar – is the main criticism of Kallis, writes Barend Prins.

By his own admittance the 2015 World Cup was just a bridge too far, but Jacques Kallis' contribution to establishing the Proteas as one of the most consistently successful ODI sides shouldn't be forgotten.

It is no secret that South Africa have underperformed on the global stage in the 50-over game and Kallis was a fixture in the side that had their collective hearts broken in four consecutive World Cups.

That South Africa did win the 1998 Champions Trophy (or Wills International Cup, as it was known then), and Kallis' contribution to the success with both bat and ball is often forgotten.

In the semi-final against Sri Lanka, Kallis scored a match-winning century from number five as the Proteas claimed a 92-run victory in a rain-shortened affair in Dhaka.

In the final, against the West Indies at the same stadium, Kallis recorded figures five for 30 with the ball to set up a routine chase against Brian Lara's charges.

Kallis rightly won the Man of the Match award in both matches and was named Player of the Tournament as well for his all-round performances during the event in Bangladesh.

Irrespective of the thousands of runs and 100s of wickets and catches he took in victories for South Africa, Kallis was seldom regarded as match-winner, irrespective of the 32 Man of the Match awards he won in ODIs, a number that is only exceeded by Sachin Tendulkar and Sanath Jayasuriya.

In Test cricket, he won more Man of the Match awards than any player in history (23), and again he wasn't regarded as a match-winner due to his considered approach to batting in particular.

That perceived inability to change the momentum of matches in the same fashion as some of the more flashy contemporaries is the main criticism of Kallis, but that was never his role for the Proteas throughout his 18-year international career.

With the bat Kallis was Mr Dependable, the glue that held the side together and the consistent run-scorer that allowed the rest of the team to express themselves. Invariably, if Kallis made runs, South Africa won.

With the ball, he was Mr Golden Arm, able to take wickets with swing, seam, pace and bounce with stunning regularity, even in his late 30s.

Even if Kallis isn't regarded as 'great' limited-overs player – however subjective that label might be – his colossal all-round contribution is unlikely ever to be matched.

A haul of 25,534 international runs, 577 international wickets and 338 international catches is equally as impressive, maybe even more so, than the individual records held by Messrs Bradman, Tendulkar, Lara, Muralitharan and Laker.

His measured approach to the game means also Kallis will arguably never be regarded as highly as the swashbuckling Sir Garfield Sobers, even though their Test match records are remarkably similar (Sobers only ever played one ODI).

The fact that the question of who the better all-rounder is can even be asked, is a great compliment to Newlands' favourite son.

<b>Barend Prins</b>

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