Test: Why Jacques Kallis might be the best all-rounder?

All-rounders are a crucial part of any test cricket side. In this article, we will take a look at why Jacques Kallis might be the best all-rounder.

An all-rounder in any format of cricket is a crucial part of any team. In Test cricket, the role of an all-rounder becomes even more crucial. In a game of five days, the frontline bowlers can often get tired that’s when the ball is handed to an all-rounder. The job of an all-rounder in this case is not just to bowl some overs while others regain their energy, the primary role is to make sure the pressure applied by the frontline bowlers is not released. Often in test cricket, the batters use the overs bowled by an all-rounder to do the bulk of their scoring. But there are a few players who have shown perfection over the years from both bat and ball for their teams. In this article we will talk about Jacques Kallis and why he might be the best all-rounder in test cricket.

Jacques Kallis

Jacques Kallis was a South African all-rounder who scored more than 13,000 runs and took close to 300 wickets. Kallis was part of a very successful South African side and he played a crucial role in the success of the Proteas. He scored the third-highest runs in the format and is placed 35th on the list of most wickets taken in test cricket. Till now he is the only person to score 10,000 runs and take 200+ wickets. In only his seventh test, Kallis struck a match-saving hundred against Australia at the MCG, where he scored runs against bowlers like Warne and McGrath to demonstrate his talent. Kallis made his test debut in 1995 against England. Kallis delivered on his promise with that knock, and for nearly 20 years, he was the anchor holding the South African middle order together. His highest rating in the ICC Men’s all-rounder ranking of 615 places him third behind Garry Sobers (669) and Ian Botham (645).


Jacques Kallis batting

Kallis played 166 matches and scored 13,289 runs at an average of 55.37. He scored the third-highest runs in the format behind Sachin Tendulkar (15,921) and Ricky Ponting (13,378). He scored 45 centuries and 58 half-centuries. His consistency was never put in doubt as his average of 55.37 is the second-highest behind Kumar Sangakkara (57.40) amongst players with more than 10,000 runs.

Jacques Kallis bowling

With the ball in hand, he was as lethal as some of the frontline bowlers of his time. Kallis took 292 wickets and even took five 5-wicket hauls. His economy of just 2.82 proves the fact that he was more than a bowler to hold one end. Naturally a batter, Kallis had immense control with the ball in hand. His control over line and length not only helped him in getting close to 300 wickets but also allowed him to keep the flow of runs from the opposition in check.

Comparison with Sobers and Botham

Even though the comparison between players of different generations is unfair, still there have been arguments regarding the greatest all-rounder in test cricket amongst Kallis, Sobers and Botham. 

Garry Sobers in his 20-year career from 1954 to 1974 played 93 matches for the West Indies. Sobers scored 8032 runs at an average of 57.78. He scored 26 centuries and 30 half-centuries. With the ball in hand, he took 235 wickets at an average of 34.03 including six 5-wicket hauls.

Ian Botham played for England in 102 matches from 1977 to 1992. Botham scored 5200 runs at an average of 33.54 including 14 centuries and 22 half-centuries. With the ball in hand, he took 383 wickets at an average of 28.40 including 27 5-wicket hauls and four 10-wicket hauls.


Even though it is impossible for a comparison to be made between players of completely different times but Jacques Kallis’ performance for the South African team reiterates the fact that he might be the greatest or best all-rounder ever seen in test cricket. The numbers that Sobers and Botham had were great in their own way but for Kallis to have that consistency having played 166 matches put him above both Sobers and Botham. 

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