Tag: Jacques Kallis (page 1 of 2)

How Jacques Kallis broke Vernon Philander

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.


The case for Kallis to be considered the best of the lot

Jacques Kallis having recently hit a cricket ball using a cricket bat

Before we begin, let us just say that we don’t believe in comparing players or ranking them. We’re now going to do precisely that as a kind of academic exercise, primarily to piss off a load of people who will always hold Jacques Kallis in somewhat lower regard than many other cricketers and who will continue to do so regardless of what we say here.

Batsmen v all-rounders

We always find ourself disproportionately annoyed when Michael Vaughan or Andrew Strauss or someone refers to Kevin Pietersen as being ‘England’s best player’.

Hardly. He can’t bowl for shit.

An example we’ve given in the past involved pitting 11 Don Bradmans against 11 Garry Sobers. The rather obvious point this made was that cricket does actually involve bowling and so the best cricketers are those that can both bat and bowl.

Jacques Kallis fits that description better than most.

Batting

It’s odd, but Jacques Kallis’ batting is probably underrated. His Test batting average of 55.37 is currently the 15th highest of all time, above contemporaries such as Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara. However, it masks the fact that very few of his 45 Test hundreds were ‘daddies’.

Only twice did Kallis bolster his average by passing 200. Compare this to Virender Sehwag who passed 200 six times and 300 twice out of just(?) 23 Test hundreds. Jacques didn’t really do biggies, so he had to score more consistently.

Okay, those 40 red-inkers had a hell of an impact, but it’s also true that South Africa have gone through phases where they’ve produced seam-friendly pitches so he’s been up against that as well.

Jacques Kallis just sort of standing there, looking a bit blank

Bowling

They always call Kallis a reluctant bowler, but he’s averaged 24 overs a Test match over the course of his career. That’s a lot of work for a man who spent at least a couple of those years as a fat bastard.

You don’t pick up 292 Test wickets without being half-decent either. He may have benefited from being asked to bowl more when conditions have suited him, but you could also say that he’s sometimes not been needed when conditions have been most helpful.

Plus he was quick when the mood took him. Someone (we forget whom and aren’t in the mood for research, but it was someone you’d expect to be a decent judge of these things) once told a story about Kallis getting pissed off about something and bowling far quicker than Allan Donald at the other end. He had it in him.

Short format cricket

The main foundation of the case in favour of  Kallis being considered the best of the lot is simply the fact that he’s the finest all-rounder to have played in the modern three-format era.

One-day cricket and then Twenty20 cricket beneath that make different demands on a player and although Kallis appeared almost entirely unsuited to these formats with his careful batting approach, he revealed himself to be if not exceptional at these shorter formats, then certainly well worth his place.

Many boxes ticked

Look, we’re not really saying that Jacques Kallis is the greatest player of all time. We’re just pointing out that where even a half-arsed case can be made, you’re talking about someone who’s moving in those circles.

His exceptional career is too often dismissed with a terse: “Yeah, but he was just a blocker” – or words to that effect. But this was a guy who had to bat pragmatically because for many years the rest of his team’s batting wasn’t all that and if he didn’t score, they lost.

He managed this despite shouldering a workload few have matched – hours of batting and hours of bowling in three different formats. How he didn’t buckle long ago is freakish in itself.

We’ll genuinely miss him. Flaws there may be, but such comprehensive mastery of a sport is a very rare thing indeed.


Enduring South African flawlessness with the bat

We’re not a fan of batting. Fours and sixes elicit an approving nod of the head, but they don’t move us in the same way as wickets. This has perhaps been compounded by a period of Test cricket that lasted until recently in which huge scores became the norm. That said, there was an enormous amount to admire about the batting of Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and above all Hashim Amla this week. It was almost perfect.

There’s a paradox in that every big innings eats itself a little. The more runs a batsman scores, the easier the conditions are presumed to be. Certainly The Oval didn’t present the stiffest of tests for the South Africans and England didn’t provide the toughest of Tests for them, but to lose two wickets in 189 overs is an achievement in itself.

Every delivery can potentially result in a wicket, but it’s amazing how this fact can transmogrify into fantasy as an innings wears on. Bowlers’ spirits are eroded and batsmen’s confidence builds and often it only ends when the latter gets out of hand. The three South Africans exhibited an iron will in preventing that from happening.

During an innings like South Africa’s 637-2, there comes a point at which it’s no longer about any particular shot or passage of play. It’s most admirable in totality. The sheer scale of what’s happened is the most striking thing about it – all that time and so few mistakes. It’s an exercise in perseverance, endurance and faultlessness, like setting up a giant domino rally only without the toppling pay-off.

It’s also good because you can go outside and enjoy the sun and you won’t miss much.


Jacques Kallis is fitter than he looks

Jacques Kallis - body of an athlete

Jacques Kallis bowled a ball at about 90mph today. Generally speaking, he was bowling faster than Philander, Steyn and Morkel.

Despite looking more like a rugby player, Kallis has always been pretty slippery when the mood’s taken him. It’s astonishing that he can still do this when he’s 36-years-old. Few can do it at all at that age, let alone those who’ve played 400-and-odd international matches.

The average quick bowler covers about 15 miles a day during a Test match. Even the wicketkeeper averages about 10. Kallis doesn’t clock too many overs, but he does bat a bit. In fact, wait a minute – didn’t he hit 224 earlier in this match?

Maybe his new hair is impregnated with nandrolone. You thought it was vanity that led to his new mane, but it was actually a desire for an intrafollicular supply of anabolic steroids.


Jacques Kallis’s odd days

Jacques looking 'comfortable'

Every now and again, Jacques Kallis has an odd day where he suddenly starts thrashing the ball around like he’s been possessed by one of Shahid Afrid’s many personalities.

He holds the record for the fastest Test fifty off 24 balls. Yes, it was against Zimbabwe, but plenty of other people have played against Zimbabwe as well and they didn’t do that.

We’ve written before that Kallis’s reputation is somewhat unfairly etched in stone by this point in his career, but we’re a great fan of these odd days of his. We like them specifically because he has invested so much of his life into doing the exact opposite. It feels like a treat.

Today, he hit 54 off 41 balls after Australia had reduced South Africa to 43-2 on the first morning of the second (and final) Test. This included a six and a four off Nathan Lyon’s first over, which brought to mind the treatment he meted out to Bryce McGain a couple of years ago. His batting then had been calculated and vicious and we were secretly hoping for something similar today.

Alas, it wasn’t to be. Jacques will have to spend the rest of the innings in the pavilion, munching cakes and smoothing his fair locks in the mirror.


Jacques Kallis would genuinely score more runs than you with his eyes closed

We've warmed to Jacques Kallis quite a bit of lateYesterday, we wrote about Steyn and Tendulkar, but there’s another modern great on display in that match.

Like Tendulkar, Jacques Kallis seems to have reached an even loftier plane in middle age. You’ll need to go to another website to see the statistics about his recent form, but take it from us, they’re phenomenal.

In this innings, it was 64-4 and then 98-5; India were on one of those rolls where the match suddenly goes from nought to sixty in a split second; and he had a knacked up side muscle. None of this mattered. Jacques Kallis was going to score a hundred.

Comparisons are odious but informative and it’s worth noting that although Sachin Tendulkar has about 3,000 more Test runs than Kallis, the latter’s average is superior (57.43 compared to 56.54). For a man who’s only recorded one double hundred in his Test career, that average speaks of unparalleled consistency, even if it also betrays an occasional tendency to play the anchor when that role is unwarranted.

Throw in the “reluctant” acquisition of 270 Test wickets and an appearance in the world’s first 100% great advert and you’ve got a very special cricketer.

Today though, it was all about his immovability at a key moment in a crucial and difficult match. That’s worth more than the numbers.


Jacques Kallis went big

Jacques Kallis puts his weight behind oneFor once, this isn’t about that period when Jacques Kallis lost sight of his genitals for a few months. It’s about him hitting a hundred.

Once upon a time, hitting a hundred was an achievement. Nowadays you hit 170 and the man of the match award goes to someone who hit 230. Jacques has never hit a double hundred and we like him because of this. His Test batting average (54.85) isn’t bumped up by a handful of freakish innings. He’s put the work in day-in, day-out.

This has been an old-fashioned Test. It’s not about how many a batsman can make. It’s about whether he can make any at all. Test cricket is much, much better this way.

By the way, despite the title of this update, the phrase ‘go big’ is not King Cricket approved. We favour ‘score more’. As in: “Jacques Kallis has scored his hundred. Now he needs to score more.”

We’re hoping that ‘score more’ catches on, but we’re not hopeful.


Is Jacques Kallis a boring batsman?

Jacques Kallis is not fully boring, just quite boringWell, maybe a bit, but Jacques Kallis’s reputation seems to be etched in stone now and nothing he ever does will change it.

“He just accumulates,” said Nasser Hussain shortly after Kallis passed 100. ‘Didn’t he drop to one knee and thock the ball over the boundary at one point?’ we asked. Nasser didn’t answer, because he was on telly.

For pretty much his whole career, Kallis has been South Africa’s best batsman. For quite a long time, he’ll have felt (and probably been told) that he couldn’t get out. It takes a lot to undo that kind of mindset. He is still one of the finest batsmen and, technically, exercising restraint when you can play all the shots is an attribute in itself.

Kind of a boring attribute though.


The best advert featuring a cricketer EVER

There isn’t one part of this advert that isn’t amazing. It is the world’s first 100% amazing advert.

It's HOW you bury sheep that matters

The slogan’s baffling and surreal and amazing. The picture’s less baffling, but still surreal and amazing. Even the boast ‘SA’s #1 Hand Tool Brand’ is amazing, because just how hotly contested is that title?

Ceci sent this majestic thing in.

She writes:

“This is an advert from a South African cricket mag.  It’s entirely un-photoshopped and is utterly mysterious. Why is Kallis looking so keen and eager?  Is sheep burying his hobby, or is it – like Steyn’s crocodile wrestling – the mark of a Saffer man; the number of sheep he can bury in an hour?”

Girl in uniform handling toolWebco Tools’ website doesn’t quite live up to this promise, but it’s still pretty amazing. They know their target market, as proven by their use of images such as the one on the right.

Bet you’d like to bury sheep with her, eh?

Eh? Eh?

Oh.


Flintoff to Kallis

We don’t know about you, but we’re glad Aleem Dar turned down that blatantly out lbw appeal against Kallis. What followed was as electric as that innocuous-looking, ankle-high, three-holed square of plastic in the corner there.

It was proper fast bowling; the kind you just don’t get in the shorter formats; the kind that only comes about when the bowler v batsman duel suddenly becomes personal and that bowler can do whatever he bloody well wants.

It actually wasn’t a supremely quick spell of bowling in the literal sense – high eighties maybe – but watch it: it was fast bowling. It was the kind of bowling that seems so much faster and more intimidating because the bowler’s so unbelievably pissed off.

This was no less a batsman than Jacques Kallis too – easily one of the best Test batsmen in the world and most definitely someone who doesn’t surrender his wicket easily. He’d actually got himself in as well. He’d just passed 50.

Even before the non-dismissal Flintoff was firing. Yorker, bouncer, bouncer, no run, yorker onto the boot… Not out.

At this point Andrew Flintoff summoned down the angel of pure bilious rage and punched his lights out, stole his bag of rage and put it to use.

For some reason, Jacques Kallis opted to take a single off the last ball of the next over, bowled by Monty Panesar. The idiot.

Bouncer, left alone, beaten outside off.

And then it ended the only way these things can ever satisfactorily end: with a stump being plucked from its earthy home and sent barrelling along towards the wicketkeeper.


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