Kallis named world’s top cricketer

10 April 2008

The Wisden Cricketer’s Almanack – known as the cricketer’s Bible – has named South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis the Leading Cricketer in the World for 2007 in its 145th edition, which has just been released.

Kallis said he felt “greatly honoured and humbled” to be named the top player in the world for 2007.

“You feel very humble when you realize what an accolade it is and you look at the names of the other cricketers to be honoured,” he said.

“As a cricketer I have always played for enjoyment and the sense of pride and passion one has for representing your country and this award will hopefully inspire me to take my game to a new level.”

Previous winners

Until 2003 Wisden named five cricketers of the year, but since 2004 it has also named the leading cricketer of the year. The four previous winners of the award include Australia’s Shane Warne and Ricky Ponting, England’s Andrew Flintoff, and Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan.

Peter Roebuck’s article on Kallis in the Almanack dubs him “the first indisputably great African cricketer of the post-apartheid era”.

There can be no doubting the greatness of the year that Kallis produced to win the award; he scored 1 210 test runs at a huge average of 86.42, captured 20 wickets at 25.75, and remained a sure-handed catcher in the slips for the Proteas.

His feats included scoring an astounding five centuries in six innings for the second time in his career.

In rare company

Kallis is South Africa’s all-time leading test run scorer with 9 641 to his name and will soon join the 10 000-run club which features only six other players so far. He is also one of only six players to score 30 or more test centuries.

His career average of 57.73 places him in the “great” category, especially when one considers the length of his career and his consistency.

With 229 test wickets to his name, Kallis trails only Shaun Pollock, Makhaya Ntini, and Allan Donald for the most wickets taken by a South African. Considering how much the Proteas have relied on his telling contributions with the bat, his additional success with the ball is truly remarkable.

He is also the only man in the history of cricket to score more than 9 000 runs and take 200 wickets in both test matches and one-day internationals. Being the only member of that club illustrates what a remarkable talent Kallis is and it also provides a measure of his greatness.

‘Well-deserved award’

The CEO of Cricket South Africa, Gerald Majola, paid tribute to Kallis after it was learned he had won the Leading Cricketer in the World Award: “This is a most well-deserved award for Jacques Kallis, who has become one of the game’s great cricketers.

“There is no doubt that he will go beyond the landmarks set by so many legendary players. But it is not only his milestones that count for so much, but also the exemplary way that he has played the game and been such a fine role model around the cricket world.

“Our generation is very blessed to have witnessed his remarkable career at first hand,” he concluded.

Cricketers of the Year

The five Cricketers of the Year honoured by Wisden included Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ottis Gibson, Ryan Sidebotteom, and Zaheer Khan.

Chanderpaul was outstanding for the West Indies as a rock-solid performer in the islanders’ underperforming batting lineup; South Africans got to see his consistency first-hand when the West Indians toured the country as he averaged 82.33 in the test series.

Ottis Gibson, who was once a star performer for Border in South African domestic competition, captured 80 wickets in first class competition for Durham, including an innings haul 10 for 47 against Hampshire. It was a remarkable final season before he retired.

Ryan Sidebottom, whose father Arnold played for Orange Free State in the 1980s, excelled with the new ball for England. The left-arm paceman was exceptional in England’s test series victory over New Zealand, picking up 24 wickets – the next highest return was 11 – at an average of 17.08.

Like Sidebottom, Ian Bell stood out for England, becoming a consistent performer with the bat in both tests and one-day internationals. He was among his country’s leading run scorers in tours of Sri Lanka and New Zealand.

Zaheer Khan, like Sidebottom, was seen as a bowler who led the revival of the success of left-arm fast bowlers.

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