Smith: Kallis didn't want to let the side down

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Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith has praised Jacques Kallis for retiring from the international stage at the right time, saying the all-rounder would not have been mentally up for the World Cup next year.

Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith has praised Jacques Kallis for retiring from the international stage at the right time, saying the all-rounder would not have been mentally up for the World Cup next year.

Kallis announced his retirement from limited-overs cricket on Wednesday, having already retired from Tests late last year, thus giving up his dream of playing in the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

But Smith said Kallis was right to let it go, given his poor scores in Sri Lanka and the need to get the younger players settled into the side. Smith thought Kallis may have considered he'd be holding the side back if he stayed.

Smith told Sport24: "I've been calling him an 'old man' and asking him what he's doing out there, but I had a hint that he might decide to retire after he came back from Sri Lanka and realised that it would take a lot of hard work for him to get through to the World Cup.

"When you're playing full-time it's easier, but focus is very crucial at international level and I think he was wondering if his mind is really on it.

"He really wanted to win the World Cup, but I've always appreciated his honesty and I think he realised that he might let the team down.

"He was honest enough to realise he might not be strong enough to make it through to next year, especially in terms of bowling and mentally."

As for replacing Kallis, Smith didn't think it would be an issue in the long run, given how long the veteran had been out of the side before returning late last year, only coming back to push for the ICC showcase.

Smith continued, praising Kallis' career: "He's given the team enough space tactically to fill his gap with other guys but it's obviously always sad when players of his calibre move on.

"But he's had an incredible career which we can all celebrate and look back on fondly. He brought so much happiness and South African cricket got a lot out of Jacques in so many different eras.

"It's always difficult to compare players from different eras, but if you consider the amount of cricket Jacques played, the length of consistency at the top of the game and all the different conditions and challenges he performed in, then he's got to be up there with the best who've ever played the game.

"In time, I'm sure his reputation will only go from strength to strength."

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