Once Jacques Kallis gets into a bubble, it’s difficult to get him out. It is a pattern that has continued from school days, says childhood coach and mentor Keith Richardson. Even the hostile Aussies once said there was no point in sledging him, a man in a trance.
And it’s that sort of drive that has helped Kallis amass 13,128 runs from 162 Tests (274 innings) at 56.10.
Sachin Tendulkar has 15,837 runs from 198 Tests (327 innings) at 53.86.
If Kallis was to play 327 innings, at his current average, he will comfortably climb Mount Tendulkar and become Test cricket’s leading run-getter.
Bear in mind the following: Kallis is 29 months younger, arguably fitter, and most significantly, going by recent form (see table), the South African is hands down, way ahead. Consider their last 17 Tests: Kallis has 1,181 runs at 46. Tendulkar, on the other hand, has 872 runs at 31.
And Richardson revealed Kallis, 37, is determined not quit until he has ‘that’ record.
“I spent some time with him a few days back. He looks fitter than ever. There are many years to go before he even contemplates retirement. And that is a very ominous sign for people involved with cricket records.
“They are going to very busy in the coming years. Jacques does have some personal goals. But most importantly he just wants to keep scoring runs and hundreds for South Africa. And as he does that, if records are broken, so be it,” Richardson told HT from Cape Town on Friday.
“He is not outright chasing records. He realises that he is still needed and is a very important member of South Africa, currently the best Test team in the world. And as he keeps scoring, the records are going to come his way. He is definitely determined to play many more years and break some records,” added Richardson.
Richardson shed light on his pupil’s hunger, evident from his days as a teenager: “There was this one incident that defines him. I was coaching South Africa against India in a U-18 game. We had Herschelle Gibbs, Roger Telemachus and Kallis, but India beat us.
“The others came and spoke to me after the loss, except for Jacques. I was crossed. I went to find him, and saw him sitting outside the dressing room, really upset as he had failed to deliver. He looked at me and said ‘those were my runs. I am the opener, and it is my job to score runs.’ That’s how he approaches his batting. He hates sharing runs.”
And besides sharing runs, Kallis won’t settle for the second-best slot when it’s all done and dusted.
“He’s always that sort of hunger and fire in him. And it’s because of his individual brilliance, that he’s perhaps never been a good captain. And the same applies to Tendulkar. They are star individuals,” said Richardson.
Perhaps coming to know of Kallis’ pursuit could prolong Tendulkar’s career?
The race is on.