Thursday, January 05, 2012

You don’t become a bad player overnight – Kallis

Jacques Kallis celebrates his double century on day two of the third Test against Sri Lanka in Cape Town yesterday. Kallis picked up a pair in the previous Test, but went onto post a career best 224 at his home ground. (AP)

Rex Clementine reporting from Cape Town (Courtesy - The Island)

Star batsman Jacques Kallis attracted most criticism than anyone else after South Africa’s dramatic 208 run defeat in Durban to hand Sri Lanka that elusive first Test win in South African soil. Kallis collected a pair in Durban prompting a section of South African media to say that at the age of 36 he perhaps was losing his eyesight!

Playing his 150 Test Match that too at his home ground, Kallis had sweet memories as he posted his first Test hundred against Sri Lanka on day one and then rubbed salt into the wounds of his detractors with a career best 224 on day two.

After the day’s play, The Island caught up with King Kallis, the all-time fourth highest run scorer in Test cricket and he spoke on where Sri Lanka faulted bowling to him and how the tourists have improved over the years. He also responded to unjustified criticism, the rivalry with Kumar Sangakkara for world’s number one rank for batsmen and lots more.

Here are the excerpts.

Question: Your highest score in Test cricket, home ground and soon after a pair, does it feel like this is a very special knock?

Kallis: I just carried on doing what I am used to do. You don’t become a bad player overnight. One game doesn’t change a team or a player. This was a good wicket that we have had all summer and it was nice to get in and get a big one.

Question: Were you surprised that Sri Lanka put you in?

Kallis: It’s one of the driest wickets we have seen at Newlands and we were surprised by their call to let us bat. Thankfully they did.

Question: How did you react to stories that your eyesight has started fading?

Kallis: Luckily I don’t read newspapers. My mates told me that that had been written. Me losing eyesight, come on. I can’t imagine crazy stuff like that getting written. One match you don’t score runs and you are old and eyesight is gone and stuff. Come on... Seriously...

Question: Were you surprised that the Sri Lankans kept bowling short deliveries at you?

Kallis: It was obviously a tactical thing they had in their minds. Throughout the innings they have bowled lot of short balls to our batters. What their tactics I don’t know. That’s obviously the way they felt best to get me out. Maybe they read a few newspapers.

Question: You have obviously played all Test Matches Sri Lanka have played in this country. How much do you think they have improved over the years?

Kallis: They have certainly improved. In previous years when they have come to South Africa they have struggled with the bounce. But whether there has been more wickets around the world with more carry I don’t know, but certainly they have improved the way they play; the way they play on wickets that have pace and bounce.

Question: You are ranked number two in Test cricket in the rankings for batsmen. Do you read too much into your battle with Kumar Sangakkara?

Kallis: To be honest, I don’t even look at it. It doesn’t bother to me at all. The one rank that bothers me is the rank for the team to be the best in the world.

Question: With nothing much on the track for bowlers, do you think South Africa can take 20 wickets?

Kallis: It’ going to be tough to take 20 wickets, but fortunately we have batted at a good rate. A couple of balls turned too. It would have been nice if we had picked up one more wicket, but we are happy with getting two wickets.

Question: What was the reaction after losing the Durban Test?

Kallis: We realize that we let ourselves down. There’s no way that stuff like that should happen and unfortunately it did. You learn from that and move forward and the guys looked to have learned from that.

Question: The declaration came at 580 for four, but could you have actually batted Sri Lanka completely out of the game by batting for a bit longer?

Kallis: It’s a tough call to make. The best way we felt was to declare at that point and get a few down tonight. If you go further, the only hope you have is to make them follow on. But here you still have the option of getting a few runs quickly and it gives us two options.