Retired South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis would not rate Sachin Tendulkar as the best batsman he has played against but said the Indian legend has "tremendously" helped in taking the game forward by playing with the right spirit throughout his illustrious career. (Tendulkar unhappy when asked to bat at number four: Ganguly)
"He (Tendulkar) has done a tremendous amount for world cricket and for taking it forward. He played the game hard but always in the right spirit," Kallis said in the question and answer session as part of the Newlands 10th annual New Year's address here yesterday. (Tendulkar reveals thought process behind farewell speech)
"To achieve what he (Tendulkar) achieved is incredible. I enjoyed my battles against him. I always said I will play this game hard but in the right spirit, that I can (leave aside) the game when I am in a country and have a beer with them. That's the way he played it (too)," Kallis, who retired from Test cricket last December, was quoted as saying in 'ESPNcricinfo'. (Sachin writing 'tell-all' autobiography)
Kallis, one of the greatest all-rounders to have graced the game, however, picked West Indian Brian Lara as the best batsman he has ever played against.
Asked who are his toughest opponents, Kallis said, "Seamer: Wasim Akram. He had the ability to swing the ball both ways. Spinner: Shane Warne. He controlled the game, he attacked, defended. Batsman: Brian Lara."
The 39-year-old Kallis, who scored 13,289 runs and took 292 wickets from 166 Test matches, was also not unduly worried about the BCCI exercising most of the administrative and financial control in world cricket, saying the Indian Board had been doing so for some time.
"I don't think anyone really knows if it's a good or a bad thing. We are going to have to wait and see. If we are brutally honest, the BCCI has had a lot of power over the game for some time, so I don't think it is really going to change much.
"My only concern is that they make decision in the best interests of cricket and not only in the best interests of own cricket, and I think they will do that," said Kallis who plays for Kolkata Knight Riders in the cash-rich IPL.
Kallis, who will continue to play in ODIs, said his only remaining goal was to win the 2015 World Cup.
"When I want to achieve something and put my mind to it, I want to give it everything I've got. I want to be part of a team that wins the World Cup. That's something that's missing on my CV. If I didn't believe we could do it, I would not stick around for it. If I did not believe I could make a difference, I wouldn't do it," he said.
"We've still got 20-odd ODIs before the World Cup and if I am not scoring the runs, I have no right to be in that team. I've just sat down with Gary Kirsten and worked out a programme. Not playing Test cricket will give me time to work on one-day skills."
Asked if he missed Test cricket, Kallis said, "All good things do come to an end. The moment I had begun to lose a little bit of passion or I got a little bit tired, I'd have called it quits. Ideally, I would have liked to finish it at Newlands but everything happens for a reason. I have not missed it yet.
"I am still involved in the side quite a lot. I have been involved with the guys. We went on the camp before this series, in the bush. I still feel a part of it. Surprisingly, I have watched a little bit more cricket now than I did in my playing days. Life is a lot easier on the couch."
He said Test cricket was still "healthy" but disapproved of the idea of night cricket.
"Look at the turnout here (at Newlands). Test cricket is healthy. Test cricket is the ultimate. That's what cricketers want to play. I don't think there needs to be too many changes. There is some talk about night cricket but I am not a big fan of that, because I think conditions will change. We need to look after Test cricket.
"The World Test Championship is a great idea for Test cricket. We need to focus as much attention and cash as we can (on Tests). We need to make sure the culture of Test cricket stays. When I was growing up, we'd play the odd two-day game. I think it's vital that we still have that and guys are exposed to a longer form of the game.
"Having said that, there is so much money in T20 cricket, we can't turn our back on it. The pace Test cricket is played at these days is probably twice the pace it was before T20 cricket. It's opened up a new audience. But we mustn't overkill it."