‘I had 18 wonderful years’, says Jacques Kallis

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

“I woke up and said its time; I am 100% convinced that it is”

South Africa all-rounder Jacques Kallis started and ended his illustrious 18-year Test career in Durban, but the 38-year-old believes “nothing much has changed” since he made his debut at the tender age of 20.

“Nothing much has changed since then, except me,” he said. “I’ve got a little bit older, got a little bit wiser, lost a little bit of hair, gained a little bit of hair. My dad was here watching my first Test. Today, I had my sister watching my last. I’ve been really fortunate to be able to do what I love.”

Speaking about his decision to retire from Test cricket, Kallis revealed that he broke the news to South Africa captain Graeme Smith, former wicketkeeper Mark Boucher and the entire Proteas squad just over a week ago.

“I felt I lost that little bit of an edge because mentally it is quite tough over the five days,” he said. “If I can’t give 100%, I don’t want to be bringing a team down.

“I had 18 wonderful years. I woke up and said its time; I am 100% convinced that it is. Sometimes when you are in the grind you just keep going. When I started playing, I said I wanted to leave the game in a better state than when I joined it, hopefully I’ve done that.”

Even after scoring a century in his last Test innings, during which he surpassed legendary India batsman Rahul Dravid as the third-highest all-time run-scorer in Test cricket history, Kallis noted that “records have never been important to me”.

“Records have never been important to me,” he said. “Maybe one day when I am finished”. That’s when it hit. “I guess now I’ll look back on it. I’m proud of what I achieved.

“I’ve always been one that’s tried to lead from the front. I’ve never been one to shout my mouth off, I just tried to get the job done and quietly pass on the knowledge that I have.

“I’ve always believed you play the game hard on the field without crossing boundaries. At the end of the day, you still want to have mates. If you can go to most of the players you’ve played the game against and have a beer, you’ve done that, and I think I could.”

Kallis also noted that he will miss all “the friendships” he built during his 18-year Test career.

“I’ll miss the friendships,” he said. “The winning times, the losing times, the tough times. The support.

“I’ve been fortunate to have incredible support. From coaches, like Keith Richardson, Bob Woolmer, Duncan Fletcher and I’ve had friends and family that have put up with me being away for many months, especially my sister.

“You dream of playing for South Africa.┬áBut, to play 166 Test matches for South Africa, I don’t think anyone ever dreams of that. I am thankful for every game I played, right up until the last one.”

Kallis also offered some words of advice for younger players, which were: “Really enjoy your career. Enjoy what it offers you, the countries you tour, try and take in the cultures. It’s given me experiences I would never have had. I’ve met many people I probably wouldn’t have.”

While the chapter of his Test career may have come to an end, Kallis is still looking forward to representing South Africa in the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

“Not playing Test cricket is going to free me up a little bit,” he said. “I’ll spend a whole year concentrating on one-day stuff and I am very excited.

“We will manage the workload but I would like to play in most of the one-day cricket before the World Cup. I’ll also play some T20s competitions around the world to make sure I keep playing. By the times it comes, if I am good enough and I get selected, hopefully I will be playing best ODI cricket of my life.”

The veteran all-rounder also revealed that he may consider taking up a coaching job in the future.

“The game has given me so much I would like to give something back, maybe as a batting mentor,” he said.

But, what does Kallis have in store now that he has retired from Test cricket?

“I’ll be playing a lot of golf. And just doing normal things people do,” he said. “Just not traveling every couple weeks and spending time at home. Spend time with people I haven’t had the opportunity to be with. Last Christmas was the first time I was home in 18 years and that was an eye-opener for me. I’d like to catch up.”

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