New Zealand in SA

Kallis an all-time great: Smith

2013-01-03 07:31
Jacques Kallis (AP)

Cape Town - Jacques Kallis, who on Wednesday became only the fourth cricketer in the world to score over 13 000 Test runs, will be remembered as one of the greatest cricketers in history, said his captain Graeme Smith.

“Jacques put South African cricket on the map in a big way and he’ll go down as an all-time great,” said Smith.

Going into the first of two Tests against New Zealand, in Cape Town, Kallis was 20 runs short and faced 36 balls to reach the milestone, smashing Doug Bracewell past gully for four.

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Only India’s Sachin Tendulkar (15 645), Ricky Ponting of Australia (13 378) and Rahul Dravid, also of India (13 288), have reached the 13 000-run mark, although Kallis reached it quickest of the four.

“We’re all really happy he is finally getting the credit he deserves. I’m running out of things to say about him as he’s such an incredible player,” said Smith.

“I don’t think many people understand just how immense an achievement it is to score 13 000 Test runs.”

At the age of 37, Kallis has always dismissed comments about any impending retirement and could go on to finish second behind Tendulkar, requiring another 339 runs to surpass Ponting.

“I’ve certainly come a long way since those first Test matches I played and I was fortunate to reach my 13 000 runs it in front of my home crowd,” Kallis said.

“In my opinion, Newlands is the best ground in the world and the public have been fantastic to me over the years. That ovation meant a lot to me and it will live with me forever.”

Kallis said it suited his personality to remain under the radar internationally and had never played the game for recognition.

“I was able to carry on doing what I enjoy doing best and I don’t take anything for granted,” he said.

“I make sure I put in the hard work behind the scenes and I am still motivated to win games. I haven’t thought about retirement but I do think about the management of my game, like possibly missing some one-day games to prolong my Test career.

“I’m batting as well as ever in my career so hopefully I can carry on with that form for a little while longer and win matches for whatever team I play in.”

Kallis said if he felt he was not playing well or keeping out some talented youngster, he would definitely pack it in.

Playing in his 159th Test, the Capetonian has scored 44 Test centuries and 57 half-centuries with a batting average of 56.94.

His highest score was 224 runs against Sri Lanka, at Newlands, a year ago.

Having bagged 282 Test wickets, Kallis is ranked the top Test all-rounder in the world and is sixth in the Test batting rankings.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Is Jacques Kallis the greatest ever cricketer to have played the game? If not, what does he still need to achieve to warrant that mantle? Send your thoughts to Sport24.

Read more on:    proteas  |  nz in sa  |  graeme smith  |  jacques kallis  |  cricket
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