The best player in the world — after Tendulkar

2011-01-06 00:00

JACQUES Kallis continues to etch his name into the record books, but yesterday’s rearguard century was special even by his lofty standards.

His Herculean efforts may yet have aggravated his muscle strain and rib injury, but he pushed all that aside in the heat of battle against a tenacious Indian outfit.

A 40th Test ton puts him alone in second behind Sachin Tendulkar on the century list, and India’s Harbhajan Singh was quick to remind everyone that Kallis is truly special — but still just behind the Indian genius.

“For me, Kallis is an amazing player. The way he played today showed how top-class he is.

“He is the best player in the world in my opinion. After Sachin, of course.”

Both are truly giants of the game, but Kallis’s pair of priceless pieces, in this perfect puzzle of a third Test, were yet another illustration of his immense powers.

“I don’t think anyone truly understands how much pain he is in,” best friend Mark Boucher revealed.

“He is not the type of guy to wince unless he is really hurt — and I should know because we have hit each other enough times!”

Kallis mixed skill with strength of mind on a pitch that was starting to misbehave, and Harbhajan said he hadn’t faced anyone who could handle those conditions as well.

“Hats off to him, he is a truly great player. On that wicket, he had plans on how to play and he just handled everything.”

Kallis cannot bowl today, due to his injury, and his worth to the side was emphasised when they toiled in India’s first innings without his nous with the ball.

It is a measure of his worth that the balance of the side gets thrown so emphatically when he is not around.

He is now set to miss the one-day series through injury, and the national selectors will be casting a nervous glance at the further scans needed to ascertain if any more damage has been done to his wounds.

His efforts in this match alone have underlined his irreplaceability.

Boucher, who has been there through most of Kallis’s rise and rise, said the man-mountain doesn’t get all the credit he richly deserves.

“There has a lot that’s been written about this guy and that one, but I honestly think that we have one of the greatest cricketers that has ever lived. And it’s time he started being recognised a bit more for it.”

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