Jacques Kallis, the Glue That Binds South Africa Once Again

Antoinette Muller@mspr1ntFeatured ColumnistDecember 28, 2013

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 28: Jacques Kallis of South Africa in his final test match during day 3 of the 2nd Test match between South Africa and India at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on December 28, 2013 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Duif du Toit/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Gallo Images/Getty Images

Jacques Kallis will never play Test cricket again once the second Test between South Africa and India is over. The all-rounder announced his retirement from the longest format of the game on Christmas Day and although he will continue with limited overs, his fluent cover drive will never again be seen on the Test stage.

For somebody of Kallis' stature, the retirement is of minimal fuss. There are no rose petals, there's no special Test farewell, there's nothing other than the ordinary for such an extraordinary player.

Kallis has had a below average year in Tests in 2013, but his value to the South African side is still humongous. Now that he has spared selectors the decision of needing to cut him loose, it seems as if many don't want the big man to go.

His end might not be met with a fancy farewell, but it has been decorated with a vintage effort with the bat. After a solid start, South Africa hit a stumbling block and slipped to 113-3 in their first innings.

Enter Kallis, who plodded and knuckled down with vintage cover drives and masterstrokes all while making leaves look elegant.

He laboured his way to 78 off 224 to remain unbeaten on day three with South Africa in a far more comfortable position at 299-5, just 35 runs adrift of India's first innings score.

While everyone around him started to lose their minds, Kallis kept his cool as he has so often done. He was the glue that kept the South African innings together, something which has been said time and time again over the course of his 18-year career. 

It was quite a low key innings, but it was vital in the context of the game and with bad weather forecast for the remaining two days, Kallis might never be seen batting again, unless someone convinces him to change his mind, of course.

His innings might have been slow, but that has always been his approach. Kallis is far more slow-Sunday afternoon drive than a drag race down the highway.

He's scenic, serene, steady and reliable when it matters most. And, as he has so often done, when his team needed him the most, he has performed.

He began what could be his final innings by walking out to a guard of honour from the Indian players with a standing ovation from the crowd to boot.The small crowd that had bothered to show up, that is.

If there is one disappointment to the looming end of Kallis' career it is that so few people have bothered to show up to watch. Tickets for the match are not overly expensive, around R70-R130 ($13 for the most expensive), but South African spectators seem more content with watching the action unfold on TV rather than at the ground.

The capacity is 25,000, but only around 5,000 turned up to watch the end of an era. Of course, that's by no means an indication of the interest in Test cricket in the country, but it is a great shame that a vintage knock of an all-time great is not being appreciated full-scale.

The visuals on television only go so far at creating an atmosphere and appreciation. The stage is set for a farewell hundred and although the weather might dictate that the fairytale shouldn't be, Kallis will bow out in vintage fashion.