ICC World Twenty20
Kallis set to be another Rice?
Cape Town - Perhaps it is time to start cheekily speculating whether Jacques Kallis
is going to be another all-rounder like compatriot Clive Rice
... playing at first-class level for quarter of a century.
Kallis’s competitive juices, things that also came naturally and unrelentingly to former national captain and Transvaal “Mean Machine” icon Rice, simply show no signs of dimming.
He did not even get to the crease, to show off his strongest suit, as South Africa utterly demolished neighbours Zimbabwe by 10 wickets with more than seven overs to spare in their ICC World Twenty20 opening match at Hambantota on Thursday.
The result already assures the Proteas of their place in the Super Eights phase, regardless of what happens against presumably tougher opponents Sri Lanka at the same venue on Saturday in their remaining Group C fixture.
But Kallis has always been the type of full-blooded cricketer who seldom goes into idle mode, only doubling his quest to excel at the other in rare instances where he fails or does not get an opportunity in one of his trades.
Just a month short of his 37th birthday, the latest string to his amazing statistical bow was earning his best bowling analysis in T20 internationals, figures of 4-1-15-4 easily eclipsing his previous leading effort of 2/20 against England at Trent Bridge in the equivalent tournament in 2009.
They are also the fourth best figures by a South African in this format, and break a cycle of the three superior others all being achieved against West Indies - Ryan McLaren
5/19 at North Sound in 2010, Dale Steyn
4/9 at Port Elizabeth in 2007 and Wayne Parnell
4/13 at The Oval in 2009.
The television commentators even suggested that a sometimes hostile Kallis, who mixed up his lengths deliciously on a pitch with surprisingly healthy carry, looked slightly miffed not to record a “five-for”.
After all, he boasts five of those in Test cricket, and two in one-day internationals.
How Kallis might feel about any comparison with Rice is unclear: there was a bit of a family kerfuffle in 1999 when the latter described Kallis as the son of a railway clerk (late father Henry actually worked for Old Mutual, it emerged) and also wrote in an English newspaper that Kallis jnr was “not a candidate for Mensa”.
But whatever the aftermath of that rumpus, they are likely to only respect each other as all-rounders.
Rice played the vast majority of his cricket during South Africa’s isolation, but did eventually lead the country, while well past his 40th birthday, in that momentous trio of “welcome back” ODIs in India in November 1991.
Despite being overlooked for the subsequent World Cup in Australia in 1992, he continued to play with as much enthusiasm as ever in a closing domestic chapter for the then-Natal until 1994, when he retired at 44.
His first-class career having begun in 1969, it meant 25 illustrious years in the game at that level.
Kallis has not yet placed any date on his departure from the game, although it is much less likely that he will continue in franchise cricket, as Rice did for a while, once his phenomenal international career closes.
He has simply hinted that he fancies a crack at another 50-overs World Cup - in 2015 (Australia/New Zealand), when he will have turned 40 and thus been playing the first-class game for some 22 years himself.
The former Wynberg schoolboy, if anything, has shown a rejuvenated lustre for the game in the last year or so, rather than display obvious signs of decline linked to Father Time.
It is also possible that this tournament will show the value of his occasional series “rotation” these days - he took a break from the full England tour recently during the ODI portion, immediately following the fine Test series conquest.
With all of the Proteas faster men - Kallis, Steyn and Morné Morkel - getting into the groove superbly against the disappointingly lame Zimbabweans and then hitherto out-of-touch Richard Levi and unfaltering Hashim Amla
making short shrift of the measly target, no wonder Boeta Dippenaar
in the SuperSport studio was moved to observe: “They made a big statement out there.”*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing