View Full Version : Cricket - Why Kallis is NOT the Greatest

09 Mar 09,, 00:08
It must be tough being a Sth African cricket fan, really it must. History has been cruel. After generations of being also-rans they finally got a genuinely world beating team and the racist policies of their government condemned them to exile (side note: I haven’t been sucked into the self-pity of that generation of Sth African cricketers – they get my sympathy after every black & ‘coloured’ person who suffered under Apartheid). When they finally returned it was tragedy after tragedy: losing vital World Cup matches on bizarre rules, the inability of their captain to read instructions or good old fashioned choking; failing time & again to make it to the top in tests; the shame of match fixing & the death of disgraced captain Cronje. A culture of blame, self pity & victimhood reinforced mediocrity. Now, on the verge of being crowned number one they seem destined to fail again. So, what does a fanatical yarpie cricket fan, ex-cricketer turned commentator or bored English writer do? Play pretend of course.

With Jacques Kallis passing 10,000 runs & 250 wickets there are voices claiming he is the ‘greatest all round cricketer ever’. Desperate people do sad things, but this is too much. First, I have nothing against Jacques Kallis. With 10,000 runs at 54.5 & 255 wickets at 31 & 144 catches in 129 tests Kallis is one of the great all-rounders of all time. There are, however, two problems. They are called Grace & Sobers. It is impossible to compare Grace on stats – he played too little test cricket too late in his career & in a radically different time. Suffice to say that he is a towering figure in the history of the game – comparisons (except perhaps to Bradman) are pointless.

This brings us to Sobers. On the stats they look close – but stats can deceive. Sobers played 93 tests & made 8000 runs at 57.7, took 235 wickets at 34.3 & took 109 catches. On the figures it could be close, but it isn’t.. A few points, starting with batting:

* Both batsmen made cheap runs against poor sides – Sobers against India & Pakistan, Kallis against Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, New Zealand & the West Indies (I’m being charitable to England). Sobers made almost 5000 of his runs against the two strongest nations – Australia & England. India & Pakistan were weak sides in the 50s, but no worse than Zimbabwe or perhaps even NZ & WI. Certainly better than Bangladesh. Further, touring conditions in the subcontinent were MUCH harder then.
* Kallis has a highest score of 189. Sobers managed a 198, another 200 & his famous 365 – his first test century & scored at the age of 21. He also scored a majestic 254 against Australia for the Rest of the World in 1972 (Bradman rated it one of the finest innings he ever saw). Great batsmen make big scores.
* Sobers averaged over 84 runs per match, Kallis about 77.
* Sobers was the first player to reach 8000 test runs & is regularly mentioned among the greatest batsmen of all time. Kallis is one of the best batsmen of his era, no more.


* Some 30 of Kallis’ wickets came from games against Bangladesh & Zimbabwe at an average of 14. His best average against any nation other than this is almost 30. Against most nations he takes wickets at a rate above his average. Sobers took the bulk of his wickets against the strongest nations. Again he took most against England at below his average, though bowling against India helped keep it low. At best the two are even on average.
* Kallis takes 1.9 wickets per match. Sobers took 2.5. This is a considerable difference.
* Sobers was 3 bowlers in one. He started out as a Left Arm Orthodox spinner, but was also a test quality Left Arm Ch1naman (wrist spin) AND a fast-medium bowler capable of taking the new ball. Fine bowler though Kallis is, he can’t compete for variation.

Both players catch at 1.1 per match.

In addition to 93 tests Sobers played in 10 ‘Rest of the World’ games against England & Australia. These can never be listed as test matches, but when comparing to a player who played 12 tests against Zimbabwe & Bangladesh they are worth looking at. Against full strength lineups of the 2 most powerful test teams in the world Sobers made 921 runs at 61 & took 30 wickets at 29. If you want to have a look at just how strong those teams were, check out these links.



There is one final aspect of Sobers as a cricketer that needs to be considered – captaincy. He captained the fractious West Indies in 39 tests. During his captaincy he scored series victories over every test nation he played. In perhaps the ultimate honour he was chosen in 1970 & 1971-72 to captain the ‘Rest of the World’. The ability to captain a nation successfully and perform at a high level is rare. Sobers had it, Kallis does not.

When Wisden came to choose its five greatest cricketers of the century, Sobers came second with 90 of a possible 100 points. Bradman got 100, Warne only got about 27. Where might Kallis fit in such company? Fine cricketer though Kallis may be, he is simply not in the same class as Sir Garfield Sobers.

Note: for baseball fans, Sobers was a guy who could bat like a .400 hitter, come on as a relief pitcher & send down everything from a fastball to a slow & curveball, play first base AND manage the team all at the same time (at this time there were no professional coaches - the West Indies are a collection of small carribean nations, so captaining them is like a mini UN - takes a diplomat as well as an onfield tactician).

09 Mar 09,, 01:08
Back in the days of Grace and Sobers, they never played as much Cricket as today.

09 Mar 09,, 02:54
some of 'em you get once in every 100 years, performing feats so unbelievable that they are the legends of cricket. In the nets you some time hear a story about them and you just can not believe it really happened.

Kallis is great, a real work horse, in test cricket he can just jam one end taking whatever the bowler throws at him, and he has got the ability to shape the ball away and some holding their line, but really he is not the guy which teams worry about.

Robin Bingo
02 May 09,, 13:22
Back in the days of Grace and Sobers, they never played as much Cricket as today.

back in those days the game wasnt as popular as it is now..now the demand is more..so there is so much cricket..moreover it has become a business now...when you see the IPL the Stragetic Time Break looks more like a business move than a move to help the game.You have players like Stpehen Fleming retiring from internation cricket because of the IPL.Then you have the big brother BCCI dominating the ICC just because of the heavy bank balance.So those good old days are over now not only has the game changed but the players after seeing so much money have changed too...recently M S Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh didnt attend a award function..and the award was India's prestigious award KHEL RATNA..to shoot for some ads.

Knaur Amarsh
02 May 09,, 14:50
...recently M S Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh didnt attend a award function..and the award was India's prestigious award KHEL RATNA..to shoot for some ads.

Padma Shri, though Dhoni didn't show up for his Khel Ratna in 08 either.

Robin Bingo
02 May 09,, 17:32
Padma Shri, though Dhoni didn't show up for his Khel Ratna in 08 either.

sorry my bad...so Dhoni has made a habit of doing this..Harbhajan was quoted as saying that he was busy with family matters...understable but what about Dhoni he was in Mumbai...shooting for a advertisement...if he was so busy he could have sent his father...the guy seriously need to be punished for this..he is making a habit of doing this..maybe the Sports Ministry or the Sports Authority Of India should look into this matter.

even the great Milkha Singh was upset with him.