Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town - Former Australia captain Ian Chappell has
delivered his verdict on the greatest modern Test batsman ... while not giving
South Africa’s Jacques Kallis the benefit of a single word of mention in his
Chappell, 68, widely regarded as an astute television and
print commentator but often considered in these parts to hand South African
cricket laurels sparingly or not at all, hands the accolade to retired West
Indies legend Brian Lara in his latest ESPN Cricinfo column titled: “Who’s the
pick of the modern greats?”
But he has narrowed the candidates down to just three: Lara,
compatriot Ricky Ponting and Indian maestro Sachin Tendulkar, describing the
trio as “the three most dominant batsmen of the (modern) era”.
But Kallis, whose batting statistics glow with at least
equal strength alongside those players, and boasts way superior bowling figures
to any of them, is bypassed altogether, with Chappell not even taking the time
to explain the Proteas star’s omission.
In reaching his
pro-Lara verdict, Chappell says: “There’s no doubt Ponting has resurrected his
career and provided himself with an opportunity to add to his glittering
“He’ll never reach the statistical peak of Tendulkar, but
while the Little Master continues to stumble with the defining (100th
Test and ODI) century in sight, often because of a mental aberration, Ponting
impresses with the strength of his mind.
“Nevertheless, if you told me I could pick just one from
that trio I’d take Lara. I loved the way he played spin bowling and I admired
his determination to always do it ‘my way’.”
There is a school of thought that Chappell has harboured
residual bitterness over being part of the Aussie side famously whitewashed 4-0
in South Africa in 1969/70.
*Here in player alphabetical order, are the key Test
statistics of the three players discussed by Chappell, but also including