Kallis puts past behind him before test
THE Oval is "Ground Zero". The time is now. Whatever went before is of no consequence, believes all-rounder Jacques Kallis.
South Africa have never won at the Oval - and Kallis's record is poor in England, where he has only once scored a hundred.
He has a batting average in the country of about 29, compared with a career average of almost 57.
But the Oval record is of little consequence to the team or to the man whom England regard as the lynchpin of the side.
"I am not concerned about the past," said Kallis, as South Africa had a rigorous workout yesterday ahead of the test starting tomorrow.
"We just have to prepare as best we can and not worry about who is the opposition, or what ground we are on.
"Your last innings is your last innings and you always start with a zero behind your name. You don't get a head start just because you played well in your last match, or on the last tour here.
"I will just prepare as I have always done. It's not a case of going out and trying to do better. I will just go out there and do what I do."
Kallis has always been regarded as a key player for his versatility and was the world's best all-rounder for 10 years until he was displaced in December.
"I've been working hard at my bowling, too, and I'm enjoying it. I want to be involved, whether it's holding up an end, being aggressive, or whatever role I am given. If I have a bad series and we win the series, I'll take that."
The 36-year-old, ranked No4 in test batting, could be required to play as big a role as ever. The pitch looks dry but must have a reservoir of underlying moisture due to excessive rainfall - and is likely to be on the slow side.
Kallis is also confident that Vernon Philander will play a huge role, despite his relative lack of experience of just seven tests, which propelled him to No5 in the bowling rankings. Certainly, this is regarded as a battle of the two best bowling attacks in the world .
Matching James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan with Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander, off-spinner Graeme Swann is regarded as England's game-breaker.
Imran Tahir's leg-spin gives Graeme Smith an extra option. But Kallis provides the edge.