Jacques Kallis remains South Africa’s all-time leading run-scorer in international cricket, and as arguably the best Proteas all-rounder of all time should also be recognised as the greatest-ever South African cricketer.
Cricket is and has always been a sport where statistical achievements by individuals are hotly debated, but by most criteria, Kallis stands out. Any ranking of cricketers is something that drifts into the realm of the subjective because contributions aren’t always accurately reflected in the statistics.
The thing that makes Kallis South Africa’s GOAT (greatest of all time) isn’t his impressive career numbers so much as his relentless consistency.
Throughout the history of South African cricket, there have been players who have been more explosive in their run-scoring and quite a few who have posted bigger scores, but few can claim to have been as consistent in what they delivered as Kallis.
With ball in hand, the same was true. Kallis wasn’t the quickest bowler, nor did he take bags of wickets – but his captains always knew what they were getting when he had the pill.
A cursory glance at the Proteas’ run-scoring charts suggests that if AB de Villiers played anywhere near the amount of cricket Kallis did, he would have comfortably surpassed the great man. Kallis remains the man at the top, though, achieving his mountain of runs across a 19-year international career.
As an all-rounder, Kallis’ influence was such that the Proteas have struggled to balance their Test XI since his retirement. He was for many years their banker – a reliable source of runs and crucial contributor of overs.
Towards the back end of his career, the Proteas weren’t able to utilise Kallis as much as a Test bowler as years of strain took their toll on his body but, tellingly, his final Test innings was a century against India in Durban.
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