Cape Town – Jacques Kallis, one of the world’s greatest ever all-rounders, intends ending his international hiatus in South Africa’s Test series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates during October.
Kallis has been keeping an unusually low cricketing profile in recent weeks, since unexpectedly pulling out of the Proteas’ plans for the ICC Champions Trophy in the United Kingdom shortly before the squad was announced – the country was comprehensively eliminated by England in the semi-finals.
Speculation inevitably surrounded his future at that point, with some pundits even fearing that his illustrious career in all formats for South Africa was under threat.
Following the Proteas’ Champions Trophy exit for instance, outgoing coach Gary Kirsten, while ruing the absence of Kallis’s rich experience, was quoted as saying: “South African cricket has to move on from Jacques Kallis. He’s been around for 20 years and been an incredible servant to the game, but we need to find other players and I think we have.”
But long-time manager Dave Rundle, the former SA and Western Province off-spinner, confirmed to Sport24 on Friday that his veteran client, who will turn 38 during the first of two Tests against the Pakistanis in Abu Dhabi from October 14, intends returning for that portion of the trip (there are also some one-day and Twenty20 internationals).
Rundle said: “Jacques will be back for the Tests against Pakistan; that’s the plan at the moment.
“His plan is (still) to play Test matches for the Proteas. He also wants to try to make the World Cup (February 2015 in Australia and New Zealand) squad if selected.
“He doesn’t feel he can make that if he plays all the formats now. We are managing this as best possible.”
Kallis is the standout holder of 162 Test and 321 ODI caps, with a sublime Test batting average of 56 and almost as impressive 45 in the 50-overs format, and it seems reasonably clear that he will see out his career as a still-influential occasional bowler as well, thus bringing vital balance to South Africa in both codes.
His intentions come as no great surprise, considering that he had already been rather obviously scaling back his ODI involvement – his last appearance in that environment was against New Zealand at Napier in February 2012.
But his appetite for the blue-chip Test game has remained undimmed, with few signs yet of a struggle with the ravages of advancing age: although he had a pretty modest home summer in 2012/13, by his standards, against New Zealand and Pakistan, he had scored heavily in the memorable slightly earlier triumph in Australia.
Kallis will be well aware of the risks associated with staying out of the ODI fold and then hoping to make the cut for one final crack at the elusive World Cup, when he would also be well into his 40th year.
It is possible that the Proteas by then will have assembled a more potent ODI side than they boast now, with inconsistency of results a notable feature and a tough five-match assignment in Sri Lanka due to start on Saturday.
But certainly as things stand his all-round skills remain obviously missed, particularly as the top-order batting remains shrouded in some doubt.
Whenever World Cups come around, countries generally want to assemble their best possible players regardless of age or lead-up circumstance.
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