The stats should always matter - let's give Kallis his due

By May 19, 2020
Jacques Kallis Jacques Kallis

A quick look at the stats of legendary South African all-rounder suggests that he should not just routinely be part of conversations that speak about the best all-rounder of all-time but perhaps the best of all-time.

Instead, it seems the South African has been found short of ground in another routine legend ranking discussion, finishing behind the incomparable Garfield Sobers and it seems struggling to finish ahead of Imran Khan, in the latest Ultimate XI Test cricket all-rounder choice.

Let’s get this straight, if Kallis is to come up short it will certainly never be on the weight of his statistics.

The batsman’s Test record compares favourably with almost any other batsman of modern times.  In terms of run scored, his total of 13,289 is third on the all-time list, bettered by only Ricky Ponting (13,378) and Sachin Tendulkar (15,921). 

In fact, Kallis has scored some 1,336 more runs than Brian Lara, a man who is generally considered as one of the four best batsmen of all time, and in some instances, the best. In terms of averages, he has a higher average than Lara, Tendulkar, Dravid, and Ponting. Compared to batsmen who have made debuts in the past 30 years, only Kumar Sangakkara, Steve Smith, and Adam Voges (who only played 20 Tests) can top Kallis’ career average of 55.37.

His 45 Test centuries is second on the all-time list behind Tendulkar’s 51 and four ahead of Ponting and lest we forget he was just short of 300 Test wickets with 292 at 32.65.

But, despite constantly etching his name above the greats some have found it easy to dismiss Kallis's case because he lacked one factor many of his contemporaries possess. He was unspectacular.

The South African simply got the job done with very little fanfare. Best summed up in his own words; “I think it was my personality. I never really enjoyed the limelight, I liked going about my business and just getting on with the job. I never played the game for accolades or anything like that.”

For some, that has been enough to relegate one of the greatest players of a generation to a mere consideration, or well below what his achievements merit in the debate on greatness, but it shouldn’t be.

Kwesi Mugisa

Kwesi has been a sports journalist with more than 10-years’ experience in the field. First as a Sports Reporter with The Gleaner in the early 2000s before he made the almost natural transition to becoming an editor. Since then he has led the revamp of The Star’s sports offering, making it a more engaging and forward-thinking component of the most popular tabloid newspaper in the Caribbean.

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