On December 17, the eve of the first Test, one saw Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith walk up to the pitch at the Wanderers. Their mates were busy training at the nets outside the field of play.
Smith’s daughter, Cadence, was also present. The little one was sitting pretty on her dad’s shoulders. After checking out the pitch, Smith sat down, placed the baby on his laps and asked Kallis to click a few pictures. Then, he gave Cadence to Kallis, stood up, and clicked a few frames.
A few minutes later, they walked through the tunnel and into the dressing room.
Fast-forward to Wednesday and Kallis’s decision to retire from Test cricket was surprising nevertheless. This is not to say that Kallis may have broken the news to Smith during that long walk to and from the middle, but you could sense something personal. Why, even the Indian team knew of it on Tuesday itself.
That the Boxing Day against India will be the last of one of the greatest cricketer of our times is hard to comprehend. But that’s life. And yes, the runs had dried up. But now that he has decided to move on, let’s not weigh his recent performances. You know what Kallis means to world cricket.
And let’s not forget that this has been an awful year of sorts: first, it was Ricky Ponting, then Sachin Tendulkar and now JK. Three of the modern era’s titans have retired in 2013. For the record, Tendulkar had made the announcement during the Diwali season; Kallis chose to do so on Christmas Day!
“It’s been an honour and a privilege to have been part of the South African test team since making my debut 18 years ago,” said the 38-year-old with 13,174 runs and 292 wickets from 165 Tests.
“I have enjoyed every moment out in the middle but I just feel that the time is right to hang up my Test whites. It wasn’t an easy decision to come to, especially with Australia around the corner and the success this team is enjoying but I feel that I have made my contribution in this format.”
As was being speculated, the selectors wanted Kallis out. Chief selector Andrew Hudson had told dna as much on the sidelines of the third ODI in Centurion. But here’s the catch: Kallis is still available for selection in ODIs. The affable Cape Town-born cricketer, who has 11,574 runs and 273 wickets in 325 ODIs, wants to give himself one last chance to win a world title, more specifically the 2015 ICC World Cup to be played in Australia and New Zealand.
“I don’t see it as goodbye because I still have a lot of hunger to push South Africa to that World Cup in 2015 if I am fit and performing. Winning an IPL title with the Kolkata Knight Riders was a special achievement, and I am still determined to taste that success with South Africa at an ICC event,” Kallis said.