Colin Bryden

Just a few more runs...

2010-02-10 09:32
Sport24 columnist Colin Bryden (File)
Colin Bryden

Every time Jacques Kallis falls short of the 200 barrier in Test cricket I think of the adage that opportunities have to be taken when they present themselves – and remember an afternoon in Bulawayo in September 2001.

It was the final day of the second Test against Zimbabwe. In a match played on a pudding of a pitch, South Africa were trying, against the odds, to force a result.

The second day had been rained off and Zimbabwe had made 419 for nine declared, batting almost until the close on the third day on a pitch where the bowlers received no help.

South Africa started the last day on 300 for two with Kallis on 81. He started the final day in fluent form and hurried to his century in the seventh over. Forty runs were added in the first half hour but when Zimbabwe went on the defensive the runs dried up, with only another 28 added in the next hour.

South Africa’s lead stretched towards the 100 mark and captain Shaun Pollock wanted to throw down the gauntlet by declaring.

All it needed was a few lusty blows by Kallis to reach his double century but although he batted well enough he didn’t change gear against an unthreatening attack and when the declaration could no longer be delayed he was on 189 not out, scored off 443 balls.

It remains his highest Test score – and South Africa claimed only three wickets before the match fizzled out. Kallis finished the series with a remarkable 388 runs without being dismissed, having batted for 1 028 minutes. It is a notable record and there can be no doubt that Kallis belongs in the pantheon of great cricketers.

These days I believe he is at the peak of his powers, batting more aggressively than earlier in his career.

Kallis says he doesn’t lose any sleep over the lack of a “double” – a feat achieved 14 times by eight team-mates since he has been part of the national side. 

I am sure a lot of those team-mates would happily swop one of their own double centuries to have scored as many Test centuries as Kallis and to have a batting average so comfortably in excess of 50.

But I often wonder what that record would have been like if he had just chanced his arm just a little more in Bulawayo all those years ago. Maybe he would have peeled off double tons as regularly as Graeme Smith, who has reached the mark four times.

Colin Bryden is a former cricket correspondent of the Sunday Times and current editor of the Mutual & Federal South African Cricket Annual

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.


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