Adding to the list of high-profile retirements this year, South Africa's Jacques Kallis called time on his illustrious Test career in a bid to extend his time in coloured kits and remain fit for the ICC World Cup 2015. The effortless manner in which he has adapted to the supposed 'young man's format' of T20 in the Indian Premier League is perhaps good enough to give him a final crack at the format. Cricket South Africa, however, thought otherwise when it left him out of the probables for the ICC World T20 2014 scheduled in Bangladesh in March. The Proteas seem to have missed a trick.(Jacques Kallis to retire after Durban Test against India)
South Africa's performance across formats has been a mixed bag. While their dominance in Tests in the recent past is unparalleled, they haven't quite been able to replicate that in the shorter formats of the game. Talk of major ICC events, and they have always fallen short, buckling under pressure on more than one occasion. That is where, maybe, the experience of a seasoned campaigner like Kallis would have helped. (A fitting finale awaits Kallis)
While South Africa have found an exceptionally talented opener in Quinton de Kock, who set the world alight with his performances during the ODI series against India, he is still taking baby steps at the international level. In sub-continent conditions, De Kock might find it tougher to perform in full flow.
A good team is always one that has the perfect blend of youth and experience. While it is great to plan for the future and blood youngster into the side, the inclusion of senior pros will only provide much-needed stability. The likes of Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers can don that role but Kallis would have given more ammo in that department.
Kallis has played just 25 T20Is for South Africa and has 666 runs and 12 wickets, but his constant growth in the Indian Premier League across six seasons should have a been a factor the South African selectors could have considered when naming the probables.
Kallis' role as the opener for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the last three seasons has been a statement to the world of cricket that the shorter format is a lot about application at the start and consolidation towards the end. Kolkata enjoyed the fruits of the solid starts that Kallis would often give them and build later on through the likes of Eoin Morgan and went on to clinch their maiden title in 2012.
Kallis may not wield his willow at will all the time but he has the knack of making the bowler work extra hard to find the breakthrough, for there are very few men who put such a hefty price on their wicket. His 2,276 runs in 90 matches (including his first three seasons for Royal Challengers Bangalore) includes 16 fifties and highlights his importance at the top of the order. He has also been a very handy bowling option, picking up 61 wickets in the IPL.
Kallis also went on record saying that the IPL victory with KKR was one of his favourite moments of his career, showing how much a major tournament victory meant to him. While the likes of De Kock, Colin Ingram and David Miller are surely the future of the South African side in limited-overs cricket, Cricket South Africa could have opted for Kallis to be the driving force for the youngsters to take the team forward.