How Jacques Kallis broke Vernon Philander

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2 minute read
Photo by Sarah Ansell
Photo by Sarah Ansell

We’re approaching the fifth anniversary of The Day. It’s just a little reminder that life’s really all about the little things – little Australian innings that don’t last very long, specifically.

That seems unlikely this year, what with them being up against Jason Holder and whatever the poor lad can wring out of his team-mates – which of late has been not-all-that-much. Perhaps more intriguing is the South Africa v England Boxing Day Test.

Perhaps the greatest achievement of Jacques Kallis was to make his own bowling appear surplus to requirements. By permitting a five-man attack, he ensured the frontline bowlers could stay fresh, sharp, keen and injury-free. They paid him back by regularly bowling sides out for not-all-that-much meaning he could concentrate on his preferred pastime of standing still at slip.

However, without Kallis the balance has shifted slightly. If Steyn and Morkel have appeared unaffected, perhaps it is not there where the slack has been taken up. Vernon Philander averages 42 in 12 matches since Kallis’s retirement versus 22 over the course of his Test career. You could also argue that Steyn is missing more Tests than he was as well.

England of course have a surfeit of all-rounders. Batting down to number eight is the obvious advantage, but there’s also the fact that they can share the workload, which is handy when there’s a frankly ludicrous two day break between Tests.

But the festive period isn’t about getting a break. It’s about purchasing food, tidying the house a bit and then skiving your writing obligations on the first day of the Test because there’s beer to be drunk and you’re back in work in a day or so and need to consume as much as you can, while you can.

Happy Festivus. May the traditional airing of grievances go smoothly and may you evade serious injury during the feats of strength.


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  1. “And as I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way”.

    I really wish this could go as a tagline underneath the “King Cricket” up top……Happy Festivus everyone!

  2. Frankly, I have a lot of problems with you lot. This probably is the time and place when/where I should tell you all about that.

    A very merry belated Festivus to you all.

    1. It’s an interesting question. We’d still consider Boxing Day to have had more impact on us. Something to do with being away from home and it being the highest profile day of Test cricket there is perhaps.

  3. Kallis was boring, extremely boring. he had 0% of the comedy appeal of Watson. Mitchell Marsh trying gamely to fill Watson’s shoes

    problem(s) with Kallis was/were that,

    a) he could walk into ANY XI purely as a batsman
    b) his defence & confidence in his technique was too good
    c) perfectly side-on in defence
    d) only batsman who could make even a reverse-sweep look like the most boring shot in the world (Sriram Veera)

    in short ice-cold as a soviet KGB agent

  4. While standing on one leg, attempt to touch the floor with the knee of the other leg, then stand up again. No other part of the body can touch anything else, just one foot and the other knee. My uncle can do it, and he’s 80 you know.

    Happy Christmas all, see you in minor injuries on Boxing Day.

      1. No, tried it – got knee within a couple of inches – now lying down from where I will be communing with the family for the remainder of Xmas day!

        Have a good one!

    1. That was a terrible idea, Bert. The supermarket check out lady who agreed to come to my house for a cocktail now thinks I tried to propose to her and that I fell over drunk

  5. Pakistan aren’t the only team to play their home games in the UAE.

    Afghanistan – now coached by Inzi himself – cruised to victory, setting Zimbabwe a daunting target of 131 from 50 overs (with only run-out). After some spirited resistance – seven of the eleven Zim batsmen were not dismissed for ducks, and three of them scored more than six runs – Zimbabwe tailed away for 82 off 30.5 overs. Never in doubt.

    1. Daneel, as a long-time* fan, I have to say that I preferred your old stuff. The Ian Bell routine’s just becoming a bit passé these days. When’s the next “bloody counties stealing all Leicestershire’s players” tour going live?

  6. Enjoyed the cricket I saw today and looking forward to more tomorrow.

    It was all a bit gritty, nuggety and attritional. There wasn’t much comedy content in today’s play, though. Not even naff comedy…

    …Abbot without Costello. Hales without Pace…

  7. Happy belated Festivus, all. Any good cricket merch in the stockings? I got Fire in Babylon (the book), Cricket Banter and a t-shirt with fielding positions on. Standard fare.

    1. I got a book on how swing bowling can be explained by quantum mechanics, a 1:14 scale model of Ian Bell, with working legs, and Monopoly – The County Championship Edition.

      This last one is just Monopoly but with the traditional streets replaced by county cricket clubs. So for example, Mayfair becomes Lancashire, while Middlesex becomes Old Kent Road. Instead of houses and hotels, you build conference centres and meeting rooms, and finally, a Tescos on the square. Like Monopoly, it’s shit and goes on way too long.

      1. Surely Marylebone Station becomes Middlesex. No property at all, but a vital component of the game.

        I’m not an expert on Monopoly, but Old Kent Road is possibly the only square on the traditional London version of the Monopoly Board that is not in the historic county of Middlesex.

        Mercifully, my “play board games with the family at Christmas” are now behind me, possibly for ever. The prospect of a “Candy Crush death match” (or some such) with the offspring of our nephews and nieces is a far more enticing idea then board games.

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