Kallis opens gap on Ponting

2010-08-03 13:04
Jacques Kallis (File)
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town – Jacques Kallis versus Ricky Ponting: it has long been a favourite debate among staunch followers of Test cricket in the southern hemisphere.

They have been the bedrock batsmen for South Africa and Australia respectively for many years, with comparisons inevitable considering that each debuted in December 1995 – Kallis against England and Ponting Sri Lanka – and their rivalry has mostly been marked by its closeness in batting average terms.

Ponting, roughly a year older at 35, has tended to have his nose in front in that department more often although, on the “who’s better?” front, Proteas supporters customarily have a strong case for citing Kallis’s significant extended value as a bowler.

Here, there is obviously no comparison, with the South African genuine all-rounder boasting 266 Test wickets with his fast-medium fare, while Ponting’s occasional dibbly-dobs have accounted for five Test scalps.

But this year even the Test batting tussle has swung noticeably Kallis’s way, especially following Ponting’s mediocre performance in Australia’s just-finished shared series against Pakistan.

He scored only 98 runs in four knocks at 24.50, following a previous poor personal showing by his standards in another mini-series against New Zealand, where he registered 69 runs from three innings at 23.00.

Kallis presently boasts 11,126 Test runs at an average of 55.07 after 140 Tests, while Ponting has receded a little to an average of 54.66, although he has more runs (12,026) after having played six Tests more than his rival.

Ponting stands second in the list of all-time run-scorers in Tests, behind Sachin Tendulkar (13,727 at 56.25), with Kallis lying sixth and only 49 runs shy of leapfrogging another illustrious Aussie in Allan Border into fifth.

Traditionally Ponting has always had a notably superior strike rate, and that situation is little changed -- 59.48 to 44.52 – although Kallis has upped his enterprise and daring level over the last year or so.

But from a longevity point of view, things look slightly brighter at this stage for Kallis to “outlive” Ponting, especially as the South African recently confirmed his ongoing appetite at all of his cricketing responsibilities, and his statistics reflect as much.

The Aussie captain is starting to have some doubters about his Test batting sustainability: indeed, there is speculation that if his side manage to recapture the Ashes on home soil early next year, Ponting may not only surrender the captaincy but retire simultaneously.

In the past few days on Cricinfo, compatriot Ian Chappell was quoted as saying: “The batting is looking a bit vulnerable with Ponting in the line-up.

“It seems to me that the opposition has worked out that if they get Ponting out cheaply, Australia are far less likely to make a big score.”

Ponting has slipped to 16th on the current ICC rankings for Test batsmen, with Kallis still a firm top-tenner in seventh place. Kumar Sangakkara, cashing in on the glaring featherbeds on offer in the three-Test series between Sri Lanka and India, tops the pile.

On the one-day international list for batsmen, Kallis (10,838 runs at 45.72) also has his nose in front of Ponting (13,072 runs at 42.85), lying eighth to Ponting’s ninth -- never mind his 254 to 3 superiority in wickets.

In terms of Tests, though, the list of scores below serves as a pointer to the contrasting fortunes of the two in recent times:

Kallis’s last 10 Tests (from most recent):
43 and 0* v West Indies, Bridgetown
110 and 62* v West Indies, Basseterre
28 and 40 v West Indies, Port of Spain
10 and 20 v India, Kolkata
173 v India, Nagpur
7 v England, Johannesburg
108 and 46 v England, Cape Town
75 and 3 v England, Durban
120 and 4 v England, Centurion
102 v Australia, Cape Town
RUNS: 951
AVE: 63.40

Ponting’s last 10 Tests (from most recent):
6 and 66 v Pakistan, Leeds
26 and 0 v Pakistan, Lord’s
22 and 6 v New Zealand, Hamilton
41 v New Zealand, Wellington
209 and 89 v Pakistan, Hobart
0 and 11 v Pakistan, Sydney
57 and 12 v Pakistan, Melbourne
23* and 2 v West Indies, Perth
36 and 20 v West Indies, Adelaide
55 v West Indies, Brisbane
RUNS: 681
AVE: 40.05


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