Barely a month after the legendary Sachin Tendulkar retired, perhaps the greatest all-rounder and South African cricketer has announced his retirement from the game. But where does Jacques Kallis stand amongst the greatest all-rounders in history?
The benchmark for all-rounders is easily the legendary Sir Garfield-Sobers. The West Indian scored 8,032 runs at an average of 57.78. He also took 235 wickets at an average of 34.03.
Jacques Kallis has scored 13,174 runs at an average of 55.12, placing him in fourth position on the all time run scoring list. He has taken 292 wickets at an average of 32.43. Kallis also has the second most catches by a non-wicketkeeper with 200.
But those two brilliant individuals aren’t the only men brought up in the discussion of the best all-rounders. There is of course the larrikin-like Keith Miller. One of the first top-line all-rounders, he had the best statistics of any all-rounders at the time of his retirement in 1956.
On batting he is not within cooee of Sobers and Kallis given he scored 2958 runs at an average of 36.97. However, he could hold his own with the ball, collecting 170 wickets at a terrific average of 22.97, even collecting 10 wickets in a match on one occasion.
Perhaps what sets Sobers and Kallis apart from Miller was their record breaking batting statistics. Sobers scored 365 at the age of 21, the youngest ever triple centurion and was the first batsman to hit six consecutive sixes in one over in first class cricket.
Kallis is ranked as one of the all-time greats purely on his batting and at the time of writing is 78 Not Out in his final innings. Were he to score a century in his last Test he will achieve a feat unable to be completed by the likes of Ricky Ponting, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Brian Lara.
Kallis, for a long time, has been a lynch-pin in the South African line-up. Batting at number four he has commonly been the man to put the opposition to the sword after a good start by his top three.
South Africa will now have to face a confident Australia without the man they have relied upon for close to 20 years.
So just who is the best? Well, it’s quite simply the same situation when Don Bradman and Sachin Tendulkar are compared. With the two men playing in completely different eras it is difficult to determine, categorically, which is the best.
Kallis is easily the best all-rounder of his era and Sobers the same. Both men changed the dynamics of not only their team but the approach of the opposition.
Kallis will be sorely missed, by not only the South Africans but world cricket.
Sobers blasts away in his hey-day
Kallis celebrates one of his 44 Test centuries
Keith Miller takes it to the attack in 1956.