In his last test Jacques Kallis completed his 45th test hundred; the second most by a cricketer – ever. In his final innings Kallis batted himself into the third highest run making spot – ever; ahead of Rahul Dravid!
Kallis now joins the list of the 20 highest batting averages of retired batters, ever; a list on which he eclipses the names of Sachin Tendulkar, Rickey Ponting and, yes, indeed also the great Brian Lara.
And, while Kallis established himself as an enigma with the bat he accumulated 292 wickets.
The colossus of South African cricket is gone; so what now?
A daunting task awaits the Proteas: they must replace the best cricketer the world ever produced and a batting genius in the league of the great Don Bradman.
Is there life after Kallis?
This was probably the most asked question in South African cricket since the Indians last toured South Africa and it became clear that the gifted ones, Kallis, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Rickey Ponting were entering the eve of their careers.
Still, when Kallis announced his retirement, just before the start of the current test, it shook the nation; in fact it shook the cricketing world.
It led to a lot of speculation about the balance of the Proteas without Kallis.
AB de Villiers is the perfect four but not if he continue as keeper.
Graeme Smith is the last of the “old boys” and it will not come as a surprise if he joins his mates, Kallis and Mark Boucher, in retirement. When Smith leaves the captaincy will go to AB and it is simply too much to ask of him to take that responsibility, bat at four and keep.
There is no reason why the gloves should not go to Quinton de Kock. At the age of 20 he is as old as Kallis and Boucher were when they were first selected for the Proteas. De Kock is already a brilliant keeper but as a batter he is the most promising of a new local crop which includes brilliant youngsters like Rilee Rossouw and Stian van Zyl.
There is no reason to put De Kock on ice and against the Australians he should be allowed to start a career that might very well end in the best batter-keeper the world ever produced.
As an all-rounder De Kock promises to become the next cricket phenomenon. As a batter he has the makings to be the next “Kallis”.
After 20 tests at an average of 33.07 per innings JP Duminy clearly illustrated that he does not belong in the international arena. Unless he becomes the regular spinner and all-rounder in the team he should make way for Dean Elgar or Rilee Rossouw. As things stand at the moment the regular spinners, Imran Tahir and Robin Peterson are not miles ahead of Duminy as far as skills goes.
If the selectors stick with Duminy it will open an opportunity for either Wayne Parnell or Ryan McLaren to join the pace attack. Both are good batters with all-rounder abilities that will ensure that the Proteas bat to number ten.
In the bowling department Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, and Morné Morkel pick themselves.
The following team for the first test against the Australians, scheduled for Centurion, where a spinner is not that vital, will most likely be too good for the visitors: Graeme Smith, Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, FAF du Plessis, JP Duminy, Quinton de Kock, Wayne Parnell, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn and Morné Morkel.
However, having said all this, the first name to come to mind as one look at the suggested line-up is the one that is missing, Jacques Henry Kallis.
Without the name Kallis the team list does look a bit speculative … tentative.
It does not matter how good the team can still be; the absence of Kallis’ name is actually startling.