Kallis is just the perfect blend
ON A Dunedin afternoon so arctic most people's tongues were frozen to the insides of their mouths, Jacques Kallis melted the ice with a fiery attack on ball-tracking technology.
Not usually a player who has the hacks hanging at post-day press conference, on that day Kallis had them captivated.
He discussed the Decision Review System in a reasoned, thoughtful manner. Unlike many modern-day sportsmen who pluck from a predetermined list of clichés when addressing the media, he actually spoke to them.
His eyes, which can sometimes be a vacuum of nothing more than cricketing genius, were alive. He held conversation for longer than was necessary and he engaged where he could have been aloof and abrupt. That day, Kallis addressed the crowd like the senior statesman of cricket he is. Best of all, he seemed to enjoy it.
It is a word that is not often associated with Kallis. Of all the adjectives used to describe his sporting prowess - majestic, sound, consistent, immovable - those that have connotations to fun are rarely mentioned in the same breath. Memories of Kallis's feats stand like Roman columns, holding up a Colosseum of courage, exertion and defiance.
And then came IPL 5.
Though some of the most senior members of the South African side, such as Graeme Smith and Mark Boucher, have not participated in the tournament for reasons beyond their control, Kallis has taken part in every edition. That alone is testament to his value in the international game.
Better yet, Kallis has allowed it to change aspects of his game. Before the second season of the IPL, Kallis credited Ray Jennings - who coached him at the Royal Challengers Bangalore - with helping him to increase his strike rate in the shortest format of the game.
Scoring runs quicker has not resulted in his forgetting the importance of anchoring. Sunday's final gave him an ideal opportunity to show off some vintage Kallis, plant roots and grow a tree. With Gautam Gambhir dismissed early and Kolkata 3/1 chasing 191, Kallis needed to steer them - and he did.
He finished the season as the leading South African run-scorer, with two half-centuries in the campaign, but it was his bowling that stood out. Kallis was the Kolkata Knight Riders' second-highest wicket-taker - only behind West Indian mystery spinner Sunil Narine.
His form with the ball was an extension of his recent performance for the national side. In an attack spearheaded by three aggressive seamers in Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander, Kallis was only used in bursts - as an impact bowler. Almost every time, he made an impact. His pace hovered around the 140km/h mark, his accuracy unwavering and his energy almost unending.
Some will say Kallis has proved that the head of a veteran combined with the heart of a youngster is a successful blend. Others will want that recipe to be put to its best use. They may advise Andrew Hudson not to go to the World T20 without Kallis in the squad.