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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Contrasting farewells of two cricket giants- Sachin and Kallis


There are some privileges one gets with the occupation; like seeing the farewell of two legends of world cricket, both of whom put together have 42 years of international cricket between them.

More than a month earlier India's biggest ever cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar bid good bye in front of a capacity home crowd and his entire family and friends. Monday evening it was South African cricket's greatest ever cricketer Jacques Kallis's turn to say bye.

The Durban crowd was a paltry 7000 plus and Kallis's sister. The contrast between the two events could not be more striking. BCCI went out of the way to divert from its rotation policy at the risk of of annoying a few associations to have the farewell test in Mumbai. Cricket South Africa could do little to provide Kallis an opportunity to play his last in front of a home crowd in Cape Town; that fell pray to politics between the two boards.

"I would have liked to have played my last in front of the home crowd in Cape Town," Kallis said. It was the only time in his post retirement press meet that he chose to complain.

"The way Indian cricketer's are treated and how we do it is very different. Sachin is God in India, in South Africa we appreciate performance but not the same way," says Shaun Pollock, Kallis' long time team mate.

The Indian nation had come to a standstill when Sachin Tendulkar completed his 100th hundred and played his 200th test. Kallis was the only contemporary cricketer to have a chance to come close to some of Sachin's records. When asked if it occurred to him he said," I have never played for records. Maybe I look at them with pride. Sachin was an incredible player and happy to be in the 10000 plus club with him."

The Kallis retirement could well have been even more low key but for his captain Graeme Smith and friend Mark Boucher convincing him to pre announce the decision.  While the free entry to the ground post lunch session also failed to draw Durban fans to witness a special farewell, the South African team left no stone unturned to make it a special for him. The entire team coming out wearing special Kallis T shirts for the presentation as they carried him around the ground was a gesture he would always carry with him. "I had tears in my eyes," Dale Steyn said when asked how he reacted when first told Kallis was retiring.

Kallis was the last of this team who also played under their first ever test captain Kepler Wessels which goes to show the journey he has travelled in scoring 13289 runs, getting 292 test wickets and taking 200 catches.

"Nothing much has changed since the time I made my test debut. Just that I have grown a year older, lost some hair and grown some of it back," he joked.

Seeing the two retirements one can definitely say while the Kallis farewell didn't have the fanfare of Tendulkar's, the void his absence will leave behind would ensure South Africa does not forget him in a hurry.

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