Sunday, August 26, 2018

Greatest South African cricketers: Jacques Kallis

Twenty-two. That is the amount of players in all of cricketing history who have taken more international wickets than Jacques Kallis. Four. That is in totality the amount of players in all of international cricket who have scored more runs than Jacques Kallis. No other player appears in the top 25 in both lists. In fact, no other player appears in the top fifty. You could expand that into a top 100 list, and the only player not named Kallis to feature would be Shahid Afridi. A mildly surprising fact, I suppose, but there you go. Of course, an achievement like this is inherently related to longevity, as well as continued health, but much of that longevity has to do with the fact that Jacques Kallis was for 15 years the undisputed best all-rounder in the game, especially when all formats were considered. Do you know who wasn't the best in their art for 15 years? Michael Jordan. You know who else? Tiger Woods.

In Jacques Kallis, South Africa had arguably the most statistically dominant athlete in their chosen profession and skillset since Don Bradman himself. Any man who scored 45 Test centuries would be a shoo-in for being the greatest batsman in that country's history. Don't believe me? Here is a list of players with 40 Test centuries:
Sachin Tendulkar
Ricky Ponting
Jacques Kallis
Kumar Sangakkara

With the exception Ponting, who is probably behind Bradman, all these individuals are most definitely the greatest batsmen in their respective country's history. But of the man in that hallowed circle, only Jacques Kallis could then arguably be argued to be one of the top 10-15 bowlers in their nation's history.

It is a criticism of Kallis that he wasn't a great match-winner, like Tendulkar, or Botham, or whoever else you may see as a match-winner. But how can you doubt the works of a man with 82 Test victories? Only three players have more victories? How can you doubt the works of a man with the third-most runs on Test victories in history? We live in a Style-based society. That is how. People see a man score slowly and they think it's detrimental. Ladies, and gentlemen, you have five days, fifteen sessions and 450 overs to win a Test match. A man scoring a hundred in 220 deliveries compared to 60 in 90 has almost never been the cause of a victory denied. As a nation, South Africa doesn't really do hero worship. If we revered athletes the way Americans or Indians do, Kallis would undoubtedly have a sneaker deal, or a book deal or something. But we don't so he doesn't. All he got is me writing an okayish blog entry extolling the virtues of the GOAT.

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