Retiring all-rounder and one of the greats of the game, Jacques Kallis, was given a guard of honour by the Indian team in his 166th and final Test match at Kingsmead, Durban on Saturday. Kallis walked out to bat with South Africa on 113 for two (live updates) and the Indian team arranged themselves in two lines with Mahendra Singh Dhoni at the helm. The Indian skipper shook hands with Kallis while the rest of the Indian squad, along with the two umpires (Steve Davis and Rod Tucker) and non-striker Alviro Petersen, applauded.
Kallis was also given a warm round of applause by the sparse crowd at Kingsmead. Fans held up banners with 'King Kallis!' written and cheered his every run. Kallis' former teammate and captain Shaun Pollock tweeted: "Great to see the Respect Shown to Jakes with the Guard of Honour!! Let's hope he plays a typical Kallis Knock!!"
A day before the Durban Test, Kallis announced his retirement from the longest format of the game with the intention of playing the 2015 World Cup. Prior to this match he had a staggering 13174 runs in 279 innings, making him the fourth highest run-getter in Test cricket. On Day 2 of the on-going match he also became just the second player after Rahul Dravid to take 200 Test catches. (Kallis: the quiet conqueror)
Tributes have poured in from all corners after Kallis made his shock announcement. While many see Kallis' decision to quit Tests as premature, former teammate and South Africa's last national coach Gary Kirsten feels the 38-year-old made the correct decision.
In an interview to Times of India, Kirsten said: "In my opinion his timing is perfect. He deserves to leave the game on a high, which he will be doing now," adding: "His retirement provides a moment to reflect on his massive contribution not only to South African cricket but to the global game. He has been an immense figure in the game and it will be poorer for not having him on the field. He has left a great legacy, especially to young aspiring South African cricketers."
Kallis' amazing ability to excel in all three departments of the game made him an extra-ordinary cricketer. Rahul Dravid called him a "two-in-one" while explaining his massive presence in the South African team over all formats of the game. Kirsten called Kallis the "best cricketer of the modern era" and said: "He was ever present in the game, always making a contribution with bat or ball or as a slip fielder."
When a legend retires, the most common topic for a debate is to find the "next man". From an Indian context, Cheteshwar Pujara is being billed as the "next" Dravid and Virat Kohli the "next" Sachin Tendulkar. Kirsten is very clear: there will be no Kallis in South Africa.
Who's the next Kallis? "I think we all know the answer to that. He has been two players in one which has always allowed the South African team to have great balance. It is not possible to replace him," said Kirsten. Men like Kallis are rare. Very rare.