South Africa's legendary all-rounder Jacques Kallis will retire from Test cricket after the second Test against India starting at Kingsmead here Thursday. Kallis, 38, however, will be available for the shorter formats of the game.
Commenting on his decision, the veteran of 165 Test matches said: “It’s been an honour and a privilege to have been part of the South African Test team since making my debut 18 years ago. I have enjoyed every moment out in the middle but I just feel that the time is right to hang up my Test whites.
“It wasn’t an easy decision to come to, especially with Australia around the corner and the success this team is enjoying, but I feel that I have made my contribution in this format."
Kallis made his Test debut as a young and humble 20 year-old, and finishes his Test career as one of the greatest cricketers to have played the game.
“The last two years specifically have been a memorable journey with an exceptional group of cricketers,” Kallis said. “I am fortunate enough to have ended my Test career amongst a group of talented cricketers but more importantly, friends whom I will cherish for years to come.
“I don’t see it as goodbye because I still have a lot of hunger to push South Africa to that World Cup in 2015 if I am fit and performing.
“Winning an IPL title with the Kolkata Knight Riders was a special achievement, and I am still determined to taste that success with South Africa at an ICC event.”
Kallis was part of the Test team that became the world's number one ranked side in the format after defeating England away in 2012. However, he will have one regret, not winning an ODI World Cup with the Proteas.
South Africa lost to Australia in the semi-finals in the 1999 World Cup in England as well as in the 2007 edition in the West Indies. The closest he has come to a major ODI trophy was when he played a stellar role in their victory at the ICC Knock-Out Trophy in Bangladesh in 1998, scoring 37 runs and taking 5-30 to beat West Indies in the final. He had earlier scored an unbeaten 113 against Sri Lanka in the semi-final of that tournament, to propel his side into the summit clash.
Proteas coach, Russell Domingo, says the team will miss Kallis’ presence in the dressing room.
“The impact Jacques has made on South African cricket has been immense, not just as a player but as a human being. Im not sure we will ever see another player of that stature very soon.
“Jacques calmness, maturity and presence in the change room will sorely be missed and hopefully he will still be able to play a role in this team’s success in the near future.
“He has ambitions of playing in the 2015 World Cup and it will be important for us to manage him accordingly so that he is in prime form leading into the tournament.”
Cricket South Africa (CSA) CEO Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat commented: “Although we all knew the retirement of a great player like Jacques Kallis was going to happen sooner rather than later, his decision still comes as a blow when the reality dawns that South Africa’s greatest ever player and arguably the world’s best all-rounder, will be playing his last Test match in this last week of 2013."
Captain Graeme Smith praised the veteran's achievements, but expressed sadness at his retirement.
"It's been an emotional few days knowing JK (Jacques Kallis) retiring," Smith posted on Twitter.
"All I can say what a privilege to have played with the great man! Hopefully we can give him the send off he deserves over the next 5 days! Gonna miss him immensely."
Kallis has joined a slew of cricketers to quit cricket this season after Australians Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey, Indian batting icon Sachin Tendulkar, England's Matthew Hoggard and Graeme Swann.
Going through a lean patch of late, Kallis has featured in 165 Tests for South Africa, scoring 13174 runs at a stunning average of 55.12. He also took 292 wickets and 199 Test catches, proving what a quality cricketer he has been for his team in the last 18 years.
With 44 hundreds under his belt, Kallis was closest to Tendulkar's record of 51 Test centuries and the possibility of surpassing incredible figure by any batsman has diminished further.
Following Kallis' retirement, Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene will remain the only active players, who feature in the top-10 century scorers in the Test cricket.
Tendulkar leads the list with 51 centuries and is followed by Kallis (44), Ponting (41), Dravid (36), Sunil Gavaskar (34), Brian Lara (34), Sangakkara (33), Steve Waugh (32), Jayawardene (31) and Matthew Hayden (30).
Both Sangakkara and Jayawardene are already 36 years of age and their chances to surpass Tendulkar in the list look remote.
Kallis is currently fourth on the list of leading run-getters in Test cricket, behind Tendulkar (15921 runs in 200 Tests), Ricky Ponting (13378 runs in 168 Tests) and Rahul Dravid (13288 runs in 164 Tests).
He is the greatest all-rounder the game has seen, atleast in terms of statistics, leaving behind Sir Garfield Sobers (8032 runs, 235 wickets, 109 catches in 93 Tests) and Sir Ian Botham (5200 runs, 383 wickets, 120 catches in 102 Tests).