Greatness set in stone

The series against Zimbabwe will not be remembered in great detail for a long time but, amongst the avalanche of runs on two blameless pitches, one man set his obvious ‘greatness’ in foundations of solid rock.

In taking his career average from 41 to 46.4 Jacques Kallis took such a giant stride through the acres of “middle ground” towards the very best who have ever played the game that it will be all-but impossible for him to return.

As much as people may care to debate the point, cricket is a game ruled and governed by statistics and that is how players are judged and will be remembered. Even the ‘characters’ and the gentlemen of the game are introduced as “Fred Smith who scored 10,000 runs at an average of 40 but was so much more than that…” The statistics come first.

The popular statistical mantra dictates that average Test batsmen average between 35 and 40. Good players average between 40 and 45. Very good players average between 45 and 50 and that rarity, the ‘great’ player, averages over 50.

Kallis is now virtually assured of an average in the 40s for the rest of his career because he would have to lose form form so horribly, for so long, that he is likely to be dropped before his career average dips below the 40 mark.

In all probability, however, his sky-high confidence, supreme skill, impressive fitness, extraordinary concentration and insatiable desire will see him build on the success of this tour. An average of 41 was neither here nor there for Jacques Henry Kallis before the tour began. Now, however, the threshold of greatness is virtually within touching distance. Watch him go.

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