Life after Kallis, part one

2013-05-05 14:00

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His absence from the ICC Champions trophy team will leave the rest of the top order with more responsibility than they might have wanted, writes Khanyiso Tshwaku

South Africa has participated in 13 ICC tournaments since readmission in 1991.

Of those tournaments, Jacques Kallis has only been absent from two, the 1992 World Cup and the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007.

Age was a factor with the 1992 dream run, as he was still in high school.

And his omission from the 20-over jamboree was the result of his slow scoring in the West Indian-hosted World Cup earlier that year.

But, ironically, he was also South Africa’s highest run scorer in that tournament.

It was a footnote to the Proteas’ general failure in ICC tournaments, which has unfortunately been part of South Africa’s cricketing story.

It has been intertwined with Kallis’ 18-year international career, which really kicked off with the inaugural Champions Trophy 15 years ago.

Seen as more of a batting all-rounder with anchoring strength, his inhibitions were shed with a tally of 164 runs and eight wickets.

Those figures were bookended by an excellent 113 not out against Sri Lanka in the semifinal and the match-winning 5/30 in the final against the West Indies. He has not made such an impact in tournaments since.

It is fair enough for Kallis to be left out, whether or not his mental state was so frazzled that he asked convenor of selectors, Andrew Hudson, not to consider him.

Having missed the bulk of South Africa’s ODI assignments, it would have been a disservice to those who’ve been staking a claim in his absence.

His absence signals the end of the reliance on all-rounders and the onus being moved on to specialists to take up the cudgel.

The balance of the team has been greatly affected, but someone of Kallis’ ilk comes around only once in a lifetime.

In him, we have one player who fits three roles seamlessly, and South Africa has been forced to prepare for the moment when he will not be available.

It has now arrived, and all the plotted paths have to be trodden with new and untested equipment.

It would be easy to say the team will be without sufficient firepower, but there is a fair contingent that has been broken in after the infamous Great Choke of Mirpur two years ago.

Life after Kallis, part one, begins now and it’s up to the top order to usher in a successful new chapter in the story of South African cricket.

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