The theme on a few of the boundary advertising boards looked quite familiar with the #ThankYouKallis reviving memories of #ThankYouSachin, which had become a rage on Twitter barely a month ago. There was another one, #KingKallis, catchier as it looked less of a copy.
But the comparison over the exit of the two, the greatest Indian cricketer and perhaps the greatest South African player, ended there.
From the moment Kallis led the team onto the field in his farewell Test and doffed his hat to the fans, with the sparse early crowd’s big applause evaporating into the blazing sky, it was one long grind for the world’s most successful all-rounder and his team. The crowd witnessed more strokes by the Indians than any attention-grabbing act from the veteran.
Standing at first slip throughout the day, Kallis was hoping to lap up his 200th Test catch, something only India’s Rahul Dravid has done before in Test cricket (210). It didn’t come as the placid wicket, where the average bounce and carry as well as the gritty Indian batsmen, quite mindful of their outside edge, didn’t allow him that pleasure.
When Kallis was brought on to bowl, it defied logic. For some reason, Graeme Smith had decided to replace the wicket-taker Morne Morkel with Kallis just after the over in which the tall paceman had got rid of Shikhar Dhawan. The crowd, driven more by emotion perhaps, applauded the move.
One wonders whether Kallis was impressed with the decision but he certainly didn’t impress with the ball. His first delivery was a half volley, pushed through covers for three; the next strayed down the leg and was worked away for four. Compensating for that perhaps, he bowled a bit wide and the India batsmen just allowed them to pass.
It was here that Kallis made his Test debut in 1995 without setting the stage on fire as the last two days’ play didn’t happen. Bad light has already hit this Test and rain is forecast on the next few days too. It is certainly not the end he and his teammates would like.
The general feeling is that it was time. An elderly spectator, who has watched enough cricket at the Kingsmead and Kallis in action, said he should have retired a year ago. Watching him stand inactive in the slips and just rolling his arm over made you believe his time is indeed up.