February 28, 2012 in Uncategorized
Just read this excellent article by Mark Richardson, very well taken coming from a Kiwi. good on you Mark:
original article : http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10788045
With the ODIs under way and the tests just around the corner, we welcome back to New Zealand two of the most unheralded players in world cricket. Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith are well known but not lauded to the degree they should be.
I will concede that recently Jacque Kallis’ achievements in cricket have begun to catch the eye but, still, when it comes to naming world’s best elevens and the likes his name is so often unfairly absent.
Don Bradman is head and shoulders above anyone else but Kallis must take his place in the small group of players one level below yet still regarded as the ‘best ever’.
Forget for a minute that Kallis bowls and is unquestionably the finest all-round cricketer ever – alongside only Sir Garfield Sobers – and look at his batting record alone: 150 tests, 12250 runs at 57.02 with 41 hundreds.
That record compares to Sachin Tendulkar: 15470 runs at 55.44 with 51 hundreds – but he’s played 38 more tests and spent half his career batting on the placid surfaces of India. What about Brian Lara: 11900 runs at 52.88 with 34 hundreds.
Going back a bit compare him to Sir Vivian Richards: 8540 runs at 50.23 with 24 centuries.
Tendulkar, Lara, Richards are cricketing royalty and so is Kallis – yet too often he is forgotten like Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh and, let’s face it, Old Phil is pretty close to the top.
Maybe it’s because Sir Viv was the Master Blaster, Lara had that flamboyant style and a penchant for massive totals and Tendulkar a style so often compared to the great Bradman himself but also promoted as ‘great’ from age 16. As for Kallis, well he has just plonked himself at the crease and churned out runs.
Could it be that South Africa built itself a batting machine and just wanted to keep it a secret?
This could be Kallis’ strategic advantage; he is so efficiently boring that no one can quite work out where to bowl at him.
I’ll tell you who is not boring – Graeme Smith. He’s one of those guys who seems to be very unpopular with the opposition. I believe that to be because he plays the game with his heart on his sleeve and refuses to take his place on that hoity-toity world captains’ table.
He has 7760 test runs at 49.42, with 23 hundreds. That suggests he’s one of the best test openers but it’s his grit that impresses. The Kiwis will try to get inside his head – everyone tries.
But, good luck. He’s led South Africa since he was 22, he’s now 31 and I imagine you’d need to be not only headstrong but also politically savvy to lead for so long in such a political environment.
The century he scored in the third and final test in Wellington the last time South Africa was here to square the series will always stand in my mind as one of the grittiest and mentally strong innings I’ve witnessed. Smith is one of my most admired cricketers but I guess, just like him, I go against the grain.