JACQUES Kallis has no interest in the comparisons his phenomenal all-round record invites with the greatest players of all.
Ricky Ponting, one of three batsmen in the world to have scored more Test runs than the relentless South African, singled him out as Australia's No. 1 opponent in a No. 1 team. Another, Rahul Dravid, recently told The Saturday Age that if the great West Indies all-rounder Garry Sobers was better than Kallis, "he must have been one hell of a cricketer".
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Former South African and current Australian coach Mickey Arthur went so far as to call him the second-best player of all-time, after Sir Donald Bradman.
"I've never been one that likes to compare players or eras, especially with the amount of cricket we play in this era compared with yesteryear," said Kallis, who has 12,641 Test runs at 56.94 and, astonishingly for a No. 4 batsman, 280 wickets.
"Yesteryear's players would have had some unbelievable achievements as well as they'd had the opportunity to play as much as we did. Obviously, it's an honour to be compared with those guys but I've never been one to worry too much about that sort of stuff. I play the game of cricket because I love winning games of cricket, and contributing to winning games of cricket gives me the most satisfaction, rather than stats or who you're being compared to."
The struggles of Australian all-rounder Shane Watson put an even more remarkable spin on Kallis' longevity. The 37-year-old made his debut in 1995, and remains a disconcerting bowler who gives South Africa two champion players in one.
"I have just been lucky with my body-type I've got that I haven't had too many injuries. Obviously other guys aren't quite as lucky," Kallis said. "I have also learnt over the years to listen to my body quite a bit, to put in the work when I need to and sit back when my body is feeling a little bit sore. That has just come with experience."
As Kallis and his teammates set out to defend their No. 1 ranking, Australia's hungry pace attack is determined to test out his reflexes.