Australia’s task of continuing their Test resurgence and beating No.1-ranked South Africa got a lot less intimidating following the retirement of arguably the game’s greatest-ever allrounder.
Jacques Kallis announced in Durban on Wednesday night that the Boxing Day Test against India will be his 166th and last.
It will bring to a close Kallis’ phenomenal career in the five-day format, having racked up 13,174 runs and taken 292 wickets since making his debut in 1995.
Kallis and West Indies great Garfield Sobers are considered the best two allrounders of all time and Michael Clarke’s men will be thankful they don’t have to face the 38-year-old early next year.
Australia start a three-Test series in Centurion on February 12 as they look to rise further up the ICC rankings following an Ashes demolition of England.
However, Australian cricket fans may not yet have seen the back of Kallis as he’s still determined to head Down Under for the Proteas at the 2015 World Cup.
It was in the Boxing Day Test of 1997 at the MCG that Kallis announced himself on the international stage, making a gritty 101 on a crumbling last-day pitch as he steered South Africa to a draw against an Australian attack including Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne.
Like many that faced Australia during a golden era of the late 1990s and early 2000s, Kallis’ record isn’t as prodigious as his overall statistics.
The right-hander averaged 55.12 overall with the bat, but managed just five centuries in 29 Tests against Australia at 41.22.
His bowling numbers similarly don’t stack up as well, taking 51 wickets against Australia at 37.56 compared to 32.53 overall.
But just over a year ago, Kallis made his highest score against Australia, belting 147 in the first Test at the Gabba at the start of a series that ended with the retirement of one of his great adversaries – Ricky Ponting.
South Africa’s Test captain Graeme Smith praised the veteran on Twitter.
“It’s been an emotional few days knowing JK (Jacques Kallis) retiring,” Smith posted.
“All I can say what a privilege to have played with the great man! Hopefully we can give him the send off he deserves over the next 5 days! Gonna miss him immensely.”
South Africa coach Russell Domingo said they would do their best to get Kallis to the World Cup.
“The impact Jacques has made on South African cricket has been immense, not just as a player but as a human being,” Domingo said in a statement.
“I’m not sure we will ever see another player of that stature very soon.”
Cricket South Africa chief executive Haroon Lorgat referred to Kallis as South African cricket’s “Rock of Gibraltar”.