Kaymo’s Korner: Test cricket should not be stumped by Kallis’ exit

2014-01-23 10:00

‘Mortality’ is a word that resonates deeply with human beings.

It serves as a reminder of our temporary presence on this globe.

While we prance around thinking we are invincible, there are times in life which shock us into the realisation that our time on earth is all but fleeting.

In isiXhosa, we would say: Engapheliyo iyahlola (All good things come to an end).

The same applies to sport. Legends like Jacques Kallis come and go, robbing teams of the expertise of a player who can pretty much do anything.

This is the reality the Proteas face as they look at 2014.

As bad or pessimistic as it might sound, having a team of specialists might not be such a bad thing after all, provided that the team management plays its cards right.

Life has to continue without Kallis and the game has to go on without all-rounders.

His constant presence made the domestic circuit comfortable as the river of multifaceted players gradually dried up and teams moved on to having specialists.

The last thing that South African cricket needs now is a clamouring for a new Kallis.

England tried it with the “New Botham” fever in 1981 after the natural high of Sir Ian Botham and his thrilling exploits fizzled out with his exit.

They plumbed the depths that make their recent unravelling at the Ashes look pretty.

In that period, some of those players tried and did a disservice to the words ‘test cricket’.

History is often an accurate marker. It points out that some of the best teams in the world stick to a simple formula that works over a very long time.

When Bernard Julien did not work out for the Windies in the late 1970s, captain Clive Lloyd stuck to his four fast-bowling guns and let his six batsmen and a wicketkeeper develop with the passage of time.

What this led to was a side that did not lose a test series for 15 years?–?home and away?– thus ushering in an era of terrifying fast bowling and electric batting.

Australia’s scenario is pretty similar, especially when Steve Waugh decided to ditch the all-rounder tag and become a specialist batsman.

It allowed coaches Bob Simpson, Geoff Marsh and John Buchanan to build specialist batsmen and bowlers around him.

It helped that Brett Lee, Shane Warne and some of the other bowlers could bat.

Andrew Flintoff’s peak merged with the renaissance of English cricket, but true dominance came with a group of settled but flexible players with predefined jobs.

It’s a pity that mortality has finally reached the Proteas, but they are better off than they were when Kallis started.

While mortality could prove to be a bitter yet manageable pill to swallow, it provides a platform from which a better house for cricket can be built.

History has always provided us with lessons, good and bad, and now may not be such a bad time to make a timely revisit.

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