When runs and wickets aren’t enough

Sir Garfield Sobers knew it, as did Steve Waugh during the final years of their colossal careers in cricket. At some point, the truly great cricketers realise that runs and wickets aren’t enough to satisfy the intrinsic need we all have to feel successful.

For for the rest of us mere mortals, neither are record sales figures, production targets, management promotions or even just collecting the monthly pay-cheque. It doesn’t matter what ‘other’ is, but most people who have a stable and successful existence will require an extra aspect to their lives which adds a very necessary feeling of ‘worth’.

In professional sport there is hardly time to consider this extra dimension to life – last week Jacques Kallis confirmed that he had spent (approximately) 40 nights at home in the last calendar year. Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and England, not to mention the home tours, had seen Kallis and the majority of his team mates living out of suitcases for the vast majority of an entire year.

So it is with particular celebration that the Jacques Kallis Scholarship Foundation should be recorded and acknowledged. Started in 2005 during his Benefit Year with Western Province, it is now on the verge of sponsoring its fourth component of scholars through some of the country’s strongest and most traditional cricket playing schools. Kallis generated over R1million during that year, notwithstanding some miserly skulduggery from the province which saw fit to charge him for facilities which all others had been granted, but gave every cent to the Foundation.

Kallis is a wealthy man and it is a very different proposition, of course, for a man whose total worth is R1million to give it to the benefit of the less fortunate, but nonetheless – at the time Kallis made the decision to give away his entire Benefit, a million bucks was very much a million bucks. It was three years before the IPL and the kind of cash he commands now.

Last week heralded the third JK Scholarship Foundation Golf Day at the stunning De Zalze Golf Estate outside Stellenbosch, and it was a day to savour.

The golf was, as always, highly competitive and great fun, the company was excellent and the support from a wide range of sponsors was genuinely touching. Spier wine estate provided some rare vintages for prizes as well as the quaffing stuff for afterwards while Taylormade, Adidas, Sanex and a host of resorts, including Pinnacle Point and Fancourt, offered weekend getaways to raise money.

But the highlight was undoubtedly the appearance at the prize-giving of this year’s graduates – Dalton Kannemeyer, Dale Brander, Josh Fransman and Bhoteki Mbombi. Not just a ‘charity’ but real boys, with real passion and real dreams, being given a chance to make them come true. Interviewed on stage in front of an intimidating live audience, they showed determination and backbone – exactly the sort of character Kallis showed when promoted to the national team when just a couple of years older than they are.

“I don’t want to be remembered just for the number of runs I scored or the wickets I took, I’d like to do something that means a bit more than that,” Kallis said during his turn behind the microphone. “I was lucky to go to Wynberg, the best school in Cape Town,” he said to a chorus of boos from Bishops and Rondebosch old boys, “and I would like to give those same opportunities to other boys who might not otherwise have been able to develop their cricket talent.”

It was a relaxed and sincere Kallis who spoke of his gratitude to the sponsors who carry much of the cost of the R40,000 per scholar per year. And it was a disarmingly honest Kallis who admitted that the full impact of what he and his management team have done, how they have changed lives, has not yet sunk in. “This is a project I will really get stuck into when I’ve stopped playing, that’s when I might realise if I’ve made a difference,” he said privately.

When all the prizes were done and dusted, the meal was finished and the good stuff from Spier was being shared, the conversation turned, inevitably, towards Australia at the end of the year. Graeme Smith, Mark Boucher and Paul Harris were all there offering support and opinion. But Kallis sat quietly in the corner with his four boys and talked of Matric, and what to do with their cricket in the real world after school.

He really is a very good all-rounder.

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