All-rounder extraordinaire Kallis reflects on a prolific Test career
The moment he sat down for his press conference here on Monday evening, the media spontaneously applauded and he shyly mumbled, ‘thanks guys.’ Jacques Kallis looked embarrassed. He nodded his head, smiled a bit and his eyes had that long-lost look.
Limelight is not something he can deal with but on a day when he walked the earth for one last time as a Test cricketer, one of the game’s greatest icons dropped his reticence a little and spoke about his motives and his cricket.
The final decision: I have been chatting with Graeme (Smith) for a little while, spoke to Bouchy (Mark Boucher) for a while and the players. I just thought that I lost that little bit of edge in Test cricket. Mentally it is always tough across five days and I have always thought that if I can’t give a 100 per cent then I don’t want to be in the team.
I just thought I had 18 wonderful years and I think it is time. When I started, I thought when I leave I should leave South African cricket in the best place that I could. Hopefully I have done that.
How did you arrive at this decision and how has the journey been so far? There have been changes on the field. I have changed a little bit, I have got older, a little bit wiser, lost a little bit of hair, gained a little bit of hair. I really have been fortunate to have the people who stuck with me and I have stuck with them. I have had some incredible coaches like Bob Woolmer, Duncan Fletcher and these guys have played a massive role.
166 Tests, stuff of dreams?: I played garden cricket with my sister and I used to think she might play for South Africa. I have been fortunate. Every game I always thought it was a privilege and my last game and I did my best for the team.
2015 World Cup: I certainly have to play a lot of one-day cricket leading up to that and play some Twenty20 around the world. By the time the World Cup comes and if I am good enough to be selected, then I want to play the best one-day cricket in my life.
Low-key exit: I think it is probably my personality. All my career it has been a low-key and I never enjoyed the media too much. I just enjoyed getting on with my game. Cricket South Africa was brilliant with the way they did it (his retirement game) and we got the balance right.
Tendulkar’s 51 Test hundreds, an added motivation to stay on?: I never played the game for records. May be one day I will look back with pride at what I achieved. He was an incredible player and I don’t think it would have been easy to do that but I am proud of what I have achieved.
Friendships and a quiet time: In the last 18 years, the last year was one that I spent Christmas at home and it was an eye-opener. Want to catch up with my sister, friends, family and catch up with times that have gone past.
Bouchy (Boucher) is like a brother to me and cricket afforded that to me and I am thankful about that. I have friends in that dressing room, who will stay with me away from cricket and that is important.