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Life changes for Kallis

South African batsman Jacques Kallis says family tragedies have given him a new perspective of life and cricket.
PTI | By Associated Press, Manchester, England
PUBLISHED ON JUL 02, 2003 08:13 PM IST

South African batsman Jacques Kallis says family tragedies have given him a new perspective of life and cricket.

Kallis has been in standout form in the current tri-series with back-to-back centuries against England and Zimbabwe on success days. He wants to score his third against the hosts in the return game at Old Trafford on Thursday.

So far it has been an emotional tour for Kallis as he tries to come to terms with his father's battle with lung cancer, and losing his uncle a couple of weeks ago.

After scoring 107 against England at The Oval, he was in tears in the arms of former skipper Shaun Pollock. But he kept things going with a career-best 125 not out which propelled South Africa to its first win in the 10-match series.

Kallis missed South Africa's early tour matches as he stayed in South Africa with his sick father, Henry. It was only possible for him to travel because his sister got a job in Cape Town and was able to be with him.

"It does put cricket in perspective," Kallis said on the eve of the game against England.

"Look, it's magnificent playing for your country, it means a hell of a lot to me. Perhaps it changed the mind-set a little — it's not the be all and end all.

"In the past I wanted to succeed at any cost.

"Now I pretty much enjoy what I am doing and am more relaxed at my game. I am fortunate to be in the position I am, and there are a lot of people who are worse off than I am."

Herschelle Gibbs is the only South African to score three consecutive limited overs hundreds and Kallis is keen to emulate the opener's feat.

Pakistanis Zaheer Abbas and Saeed Anwar are the other betsmen to score three hundreds in back-to-back innings. "I haven't got three in three," said Kallis.

"It is something to aim at. It will be nice to try and achieve that."

Kallis has been one of the few success stories of the post apartheid South Africa, and one of the six cricketers achieve the one-day double of 6,000 runs and 100 wickets.

Kallis said playing county cricket for Middlesex and Glamorgan had a very big influence in maturing him as a cricketer and building an all-around game.

He said the key to succeeding on slow English wickets was to play late unlike on wickets in Australia or in South Africa where the ball hurries onto the bat with a lot more bounce.

"You hit the ball later, and to me the balance is a key issue simply because the ball doesn't quite come on to the bat. In South Africa it comes on a little bit, and perhaps you get away with falling over."

Kallis paid tribute to England coach Duncan Fletcher. "He knows my game pretty well," the South African said. "He's a fantastic coach. He started me off in my career, and put off the field matters in order as well."

Fletcher, a Zimbabwean, worked with Kallis during his days with Western Province before moving to Glamorgan and from there taking over England in 1999.

Fletcher's early memory of Kallis was seeing a 10-year-old boy spending two hours in the nets facing his father before a club match. Fletcher said he had known Kallis from his school days when he played under his son in Cape Town.

"He's got a very good temperament, and wants to bat and occupy the crease as long as possible," Fletcher said. "He values his wickets and gets himself in. If required he can play shots from the word go."

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