Twenty to thirty years ago debate raged as to who was the greatest all rounder in test cricket. Many felt that Ian Botham was the man, others Kapil Dev or Imran Khan, some went for New Zealand’s Richard Hadlee. Sir Garry Sobers name would also always pop up whenever the discussion arose even though he had been retired for many a year.
Since the retirement of these greats of the game All Rounders of world quality have been few and far between.
Maybe that is why one player who should be mentioned in such company appears to have almost slipped under the radar in recent years, South Africa’s Jacques Kallis.
Kallis has simply gone about his business with a lack of flamboyance, but he has been one of the most effective cricketers of his generation. It is amazing to believe that he now sits second on the ladder for the most test centuries, behind India’s Sachin Tendulkar (51 in 177 matches) with 40 in 145 matches. This sees him ahead of specialist batsmen, Ricky Ponting 39 in 151, Sunil Gavaskar 34 in 125 and Brian Lara 34 in 131. His average too is outstanding at 57, currently the same as Tendulkar’s.
Then we look at his bowling, he has taken 270 test match wickets. Admittedly here is where the he is overtaken in terms of wickets taken by the likes of Botham (383) Shaun Pollock (395) and Kapil Dev (434), but Kallis to be fair has never been a front line bowler, like those mentioned.
Sir Garry Sobers is regarded as one of the true greats of the game. He averaged 57 like Kallis, but only scored 26 hundreds in 93 tests. He took 235 wickets at an average of 58, which is comparable to Kallis, 270 in 145 matches for an average of 57. So will Kallis be bracketed with the true greats of the game as he deserves to be, or did he need to be more flamboyant than effective to achieve that?
Whichever way you look at it, he has had an outstanding career and deserves to take his place amongst the great all rounders