Opinion: Fans really feel Kallis' absence

Blog Opinion

Arriving in Centurion on Wednesday morning, we all knew it was never going to be the same without Jacques Kallis, but reality only hit home when Robbie P was introduced into the attack before lunch on the first day.

Arriving in Centurion on Wednesday morning, we all knew it was never going to be the same without Jacques Kallis, but reality only hit home when Robbie P was introduced into the attack before lunch on the first day.

Usually the tweakers only start finding some purchase on the last few days, but the Proteas needed something special, something they would usually have gotten from their front-line bowlers.

But it wasn't to be. At that stage the 'new guy', Ryan McLaren, had already bowled a couple of maidens, but still the Aussies managed to hold on.

Then, when Biff decided to give Robbie P a couple before lunch, we were reminded that it was the first session of Test cricket in more than a decade that we would not see the King in action.

We all knew it was going to happen, but that didn't make it any easier.

See, Kallis was one of those guys who had the ability to bring out the schoolboy in fully grown men and attending this Test at Centurion made me reminisce of a time when he did exactly that

Like millions of Proteas fans out there, most of my mates worshiped the ground Kallis walked on and many even flew down to Durban the Saturday evening before his final day in the Test squad.

Walking into SuperSport Park on Wednesday morning many of those Kallis moments were front of mind. We were, after all, at the ground where he scored his first double-ton.

But the Kallis moment in sunny Centurion that stood out above anything else on a personal level, has nothing to do with the incredible feats he accomplished on the field of play.

It was a few years back when Sri-Lanka were in the country.

A bunch of the lads hopped on the Gautrain to come watch their team in action and, thanks mainly to Vernon Philander, they were got more than their money's worth.

Kallis had earlier taken a heavy blow to the head – courtesy of Dilhara Fernando – but where many men would retire hurt, he took it in his stride and would (as always) play an important role in his team's success.

At the close of play one of my friends who weighs in at about 140kgs decided he would do whatever it takes to get his hero's autograph.

The then 34-year-old fella, who won't be named, spent the entire day on the grass embankments, but would not let his obvious intoxicated state get in the way of realizing a dream he had for many years.

He wanted to shake King Kallis' hand and was so excited, or tipsy, to achieve his goal that he left his wallet and cooler box behind to ensure he gets as close to his idol as possible as he could.

After media formalities were concluded I stood and watched as this monstrosity of a man turned into a child behind the stands where the Proteas bus was parked.

When King Kallis came out, he nearly lost the plot as he chanted his hero's name at the top of his voice.

"Jakalaaaas, Jakalaaaaas," he cried for a good few minutes.

Kallis initially just hopped on the bus, but after hearing the commotion, he got back out, walked over to the big Afrikaans speaking sumo wrestler, signed his hat, shook his hand and returned to the team.

For the player it was just another day, but for the fan, let's just say this story will be told every time we have a braai.

<b>Michael Mentz</b>

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