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This Jacques' of all trades

The South African's ability to shoulder the all-rounder's role makes him an integral part of his captain's strategy. Subhash Rajta writes. The greatest all-rounders

cricket Updated: Dec 22, 2010 00:59 IST
Subhash Rajta

Jacques Kallis had a miraculous escape in the early hours of Tuesday when he rammed his car into the gate of a house on his way home in Cape Town. "He's absolutely fine and will join the team in Durban on December 23," confirmed South Africa's team manager Mohammed Moosajee. After the incident, Kallis was driven home by his girlfriend.

As rare as it may be to either hear or see Kallis make an error of judgment or "lose control"- on the field and off it - it's plausible that he wasn't quite in control at the time of the accident. The exhilaration of scoring his first double century, the resounding and seemingly unending ovation he got from the crowd and his team mates, and the subsequent South Africa win must have left him somewhat giddy.

The news of his escaping unhurt would have come as a relief to the nation, which considers him the greatest batsman to emerge from South Africa and perhaps second only to Sir Gary Sobers in terms of all-round abilities.

"Just have a look at his records, he's simply irreplaceable. I think he's the best all-rounder of the modern era," stressed Graeme Smith.

While his statistical achievements, which by far exceed those of other all-rounders, are incredible, his desire to shoulder the massive workload as a top-order batsman and first or second change bowler is also exceptional.

On Saturday, for instance, he could have taken it easy after scoring the double hundred, but once Smith threw the ball to him, he steamed in with the other pacers, and responded with the wicket of Suresh Raina.

"I don't find it tough to handle. I rather enjoy my all-round role and would continue bowling as long as my body holds up," said Kallis.

It's this ability that allows South Africa the luxury of playing five bowlers. Even though Kallis may not bowl long spells now, he's more than handy with his short and aggressive spells.

MS Dhoni, who often grumbles about not having a quality all-rounder in his side, was full of praise for Kallis. "He is an ideal all-rounder for any team to have in the side. He not only strengthens the side with his batting and bowling, but is also an excellent slip fielder."

While it's easy to go on counting the advantages of having Kallis in the side, Robin Jackman, the former England all-rounder, cut the long story short, saying he was the best all-rounder the game has seen after Sobers.

Perhaps it's time to recognize the feats of this exceptional cricketer whose achievements, as Smith indicated the other day, "seem to fly below the radar".

We will go for 2-0
After his side demolished India in the opening Test here Monday, South African captain Graeme Smith said they will look to wrap up the series in the next Test in Durban.

Smith expressed satisfaction at the way his bowlers performed, especially in the second innings.

"There was a massive build-up to the game and I am really happy with the result," said Smith after South Africa defeated India by an innings and 25 runs on the fifth day.

"The conditions suited the bowlers in the first innings but I am pleased that the bowlers bowled in partnerships in the second innings. It was good old Test cricket once the clouds vanished."