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Ode to King Kallis

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Ode to King Kallis: For as long as Cricket will be remembered as a gentleman’s game, the name of Jacques Henry Kallis will be taken as one of its leading gentlemen. 

That is when he was a giant of the game who could so easily have behaved arrogantly. 

But instead he chose to end a glowing career being the same man who first took to it, though always with grace, always with a sense of unflinching hunger; always putting the team ahead of his own interests. 

In a sport that’s crazy about statistics and obsesses everyday about records, it’s interesting that Jacques Kallis possessed both and yet remained humble. 

It could be argued that in an age thriving on egos, Kallis took pride in surrendering his. 

And that it didn’t affect him even a bit when others, arguably more salubrious stars were given a nickname but Kallis wasn’t. 

Sachin will likely always be worshipped as a “God” of the game. Lara has always been admired as the Prince while in the Wall of Dravid and the power of Ponting the fans have reached phenomenal levels of fanboyism

Yet, it’s somewhat bewildering that despite having no fewer than 24,868 runs to his name, not to forget 565 international wickets, Kallis doesn’t have a nickname as such. Ode to King Kallis 

Yes, during the course of his career many held placards that read “King Kallis.” 

There were pundits who lauded the fact that the right hander whose physicality mirrored a rock was the best in the business. 

But truth be could be the fact that not all chase consciously an alternate ego, not everyone wishes to become the moniker one’s prescribed by adoring fans. 

Some are just content in being themselves.

And you probably know where to place Jacques Henry Kallis, who’s just turned 47.

To a team comprising match winners, think Kirsten, Pollock, Donald, McMillan and Hudson, Kallis’ towering presence led to a massive transformation. It made a very good team known for its all round competence a great one. 

The match wasn’t over for as long as Kallis remained at the wicket.

And the bowling side, especially in the longest format dreaded a well-set Jack Kallis, whose craft bore scant regard for playing lustful, unbecoming shots that would befit the definition of a loose cannon and not that of a technically-virtuous bat that he became.

In an age of extravagant expression, Kallis stood for conservatism.

In an era where Cricket has shown great interest to change gears, going from ODI’s to T20I’s at the speed of light, there was a sense of gladness in seeing Kallis hold fort for long hours.

The 47-year-old loved playing cricket by the old rule book. He loved defiance in an era that was easily swayed by artistry. 

EKallis was about solidity not necessarily about fluidity or dexterity.

And that here was a man who loved to bat time was in someways Kallis’s greatest contribution to the game

That he remained at the crease for 30,937 deliveries, an insane number for contemporary app obsessed audience is maybe a telling reminder of his powers of concentration 

In that way alone, therefore, Kallis justified. What turned out to be, adoring to a few, a really long career. 

His was a career that was bellied by match winning exploits of a world class team and lost chances in that not once dying his career could his Proteas team lift a single World Cup title. 

But it’s okay, as one notes that Kallis presided a lengthy career. 

It was a career that was meant to uphold the dignity of South African cricket

A career that ultimately added long legs to a caravan that the purist fan hopes never comes to an end. 

While everyone’s favourite team is the team of one’s origin, that no one didn’t quite want a South Africa to lose was down to the exploits of heroes like Jacques Henry Kallis. 

He was, by that logic, the wise friend one considered worthy of timeless regard if not a cool dude wearing expensive adornments. 

Warne suffered him, as did Shoaib, Flintoff, Anderson, Zaheer and Kumble

But the one who truly describes Kallis’s batting as bearing a reflection of his giant personality was, is none other than the great Wasim Akram who spoke a few years back that everyone was quite stunned in our team as to how Kallis played nearly every ball on its merit and very straight. 

Maybe that truly was the reflection of the unflappable Protean that his batting technique mirrored his mannerisms: always straight talking and to the point and never with any disdain toward anyone. 

For that is what cricket is supposed to be, isn’t it; a sport that leaves its onlookers inspired instead of being a contest meant for the brute or the ruffian with unnecessary quips. 

As contemporary cricket so often turns to snide remarks and sly digs perhaps in a bid to court audience’s attention, a thought goes out to the timeless trier from South Africa, who always depended on his extraordinary focus and enormous self confidence – nothing else- in turning the tide for South Africa

Few ended their careers in top scoring for their side whilst scoring a patiently constructed century and that too, against India in a timely cause. 

Happy 47th to the timeless King Kallis! Ode to King Kallis!!

Posted in Caught At Point

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