Cape Town: Jacques Kallis has made a habit of collecting man-of-the-match and man-of- the-series awards but he would swap them all for a chance to put his hands on the World Cup. All-rounder Kallis has become one of the most consistent players in world cricket, a solid batsman, lively pace bowler and superb catcher in the slips or in the outfield.
This season alone he was man-of-the-series in three successive series, the Tests against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and the One-day series against Sri Lanka, having collected man-of-the-match prizes in all three series as well. The quietly-spoken Kallis makes no secret of his World Cup ambitions. He played in the 1996 and 1999 tournaments. South Africa was favourites in both but fell short.
"We have had plenty of opportunities. It is about time we came right and produced the results," he said. Kallis has sometimes been criticised for scoring too slowly but he sees his responsibility as "running the middle-order" which can't be done if he gets out early. He is capable of explosive hitting, however, and smashed a half-century off 24 balls against Sri Lanka at Centurion. His bowling, which fell away during the 2001/02 season, has become a major factor again, the result of which he says is a small technical change.
He is able to generate genuine pace and can get late swing. Kallis pushed his Test batting average above 50 during his recent run of successes and his One-day average is a healthy 44.04. He has hit eight centuries and 42 fifties in 162 innings. With 164 wickets at an average of 29.73 he is a player on whom South Africa will rely during the most important six weeks in the country's cricket history.