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Why is Jacques Kallis not considered the greatest to have ever played the game?

During the build-up to the 2019 World Cup, the BBC carried out a poll in which they asked their readers to vote for the greatest cricketer to have ever played the game. Now, you’re never going to have a complete consensus when these types of sporting questions are asked but you can always expect the usual suspect to be at the top of the poll. That’s why after thousands voted in this particular one, it was surprising to see South Africa’s Jacques Kallis in ninth position.

Actually, it was more dumbfounding than anything else when you consider that Kallis should probably be at the very top of that list. Of course, everyone is going to have an opinion about these things, some stronger than others no doubt, but in Kallis’ case; the stats simply do not lie.

Let’s look at Sir Garfield Sobers’ inclusion at number three on the list that the BBC compiled. The West Indian played 93 games and averaged 57.78 with willow in hand and 34.03 with ball in hand. Kallis played 166 games with a batting average of 55.37 and a bowling average of 32.65. Kallis’ batting average is slightly less, but then the South African scored a whopping 5257 more runs than Sobers and took 57 more wickets than him. Kallis also took 91 more catches than Sobers did so the proof on this occasion is totally conclusive.

That’s not to suggest for a minute that Sobers wasn’t an exceptionally good player, he was, only, the numbers say Kallis was slightly better. Sobers can also count himself unlucky as he should fall in just behind Kallis in the list at number two given that all-rounders contribute so much more to the end result of a game than batsmen do. In the BBC’s list, Don Bradman was voted the greatest with Sachin Tendulkar in second.

The Australian and Indian may have scored over 22,000 Test runs when you add their tallies together but they only contributed 48 wickets and 147 catches between them. Kallis scored 13289 and took 292 wickets as well as taking 200 catches. In many ways, Kallis has almost single-handedly outdone what both of these men have achieved in the game, yet he finds himself at ninth on the list? Outrageous.

You could argue that Kallis’ ranking could have something to do with the fact that South Africa didn’t ever win a World Cup during his career but then, neither did Australia when Bradman played or West Indies when Sobers did. In fact, Tendulkar is the only man in the top three to have ever won a World Cup after he did so with India in 2011 on home soil.

Incidentally, Virat Kohli was part of that team too and you get the feeling that the 31-year-old will be towards the top of that list at the end of his career should India also win the T20 World Cup in Australia this year. The Indians are one of the frontrunners in the betting and look like the team to beat when the action commences down under. In fact, punters who want to know more about how cricket works with regards to the best betting websites in India can have a look and then get a better idea of how likely the Indians are to win that tournament.

Sadly for Jacques Kallis, he will only be there as a batting coach for the Proteas with the chance of winning silverware as a player long gone these days.

The more you look at it, the more it seems unlikely that South Africa’s favourite cricketing son will ever get the recognition that he truly deserves. Having said that, Kallis’ numbers will never be erased and are very unlikely to ever be beaten, so the evidence will forever be there that he was indeed the greatest cricketer to have ever played the game.


“That’s not to suggest for a minute that Sobers wasn’t an exceptionally good player, he was, only, the numbers say Kallis was slightly better.”

No, the numbers merely say that far more international cricket was played in Kallis’ day than Sobers’, hence Kallis scoring more runs and taking more wickets: he played in nearly twice as many international games.

Comment by WHS | 6:58pm GMT 24 March 2020

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