Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith has announced that he has “always appreciated” all-rounder Jacques Kallis’ honesty.
Smith’s comments come after Kallis announced his retirement from all three formats of international cricket.
Kallis, who was hoping to represent South Africa in the 2015 World Cup, retired from Test cricket last December and decided to call time on his limited overs career after only scoring five runs in three ODIs against Sri Lanka earlier this month.
“I’ve been calling him an ‘old man’ and asking him what he’s doing out there, but I had a hint that he might decide to retire after he came back from Sri Lanka and realised that it would take a lot of hard work for him to get through to the World Cup,” Smith told sport24. “When you’re playing full-time it’s easier, but focus is very crucial at international level and I think he was wondering if his mind is really on it.
“He really wanted to win the World Cup, but I’ve always appreciated his honesty and I think he realised that he might let the team down. He was honest enough to realise he might not be strong enough to make it through to next year, especially in terms of bowling and mentally.”
With Kallis having hung up his boots, South Africa now have just over seven months to find a replacement for him before the World Cup gets underway.
“He’s given the team enough space tactically to fill his gap with other guys but it’s obviously always sad when players of his calibre move on,” Smith said. “But he’s had an incredible career which we can all celebrate and look back on fondly. He brought so much happiness and South African cricket got a lot out of Jacques in so many different eras.”
Smith added that Kallis was one of the greatest all-rounders to have ever played the game.
“It’s always difficult to compare players from different eras, but if you consider the amount of cricket Jacques played, the length of consistency at the top of the game and all the different conditions and challenges he performed in, then he’s got to be up there with the best who’ve ever played the game,” he said. “In time, I’m sure his reputation will only go from strength to strength.”