Jacques Kallis can claim to be the most influential player in Test history … but how does the South African icon stack up against the greatest all-rounders, including Ian Botham and Garry Sobers?
- Jacques Kallis was named man-of-the-match 23 times during his career
- Garry Sobers was an excellent batsman and he also bowled at medium pace or spin
- English all-rounder Ian Botham was a great entertainer with flair and genius
- Sportsmail’s experts give their verdict on cricket’s best all-rounders
South African icon Jacques Kallis has the most extraordinary numbers: 13,829 test runs, 292 wickets and 23 man of the match awards.
Kallis, the newest member of England’s support staff, has every right to be compared to the likes of Sir Garfield Sobers, Lord Ian Botham, Imran Khan, Kapil Dev, Sir Richard Hadlee, Wasim Akram and Ben Stokes.
But who is the best all-rounder of all time? The Sportsmail experts express their verdict.
Jacques Kallis was named man-of-the-match 23 times during his impressive career
It would be very difficult to argue with Jacques Kallis. One of the greatest batsmen of all time; one of the greatest catchers; someone who could bowl outswingers hitting 90 mph.
But you could also say that cricket is an entertainment company. The only candidate to challenge him is Garry Sobers.
Many good judges say he was the best batsman they’ve ever seen and he bowed either at medium speed with the left arm or with spin. That is special.
Yes, the game is about runs and wickets, but in terms of viewability – the swashbuckling backlift, the six sixes in an over – you’d have to say Sir Garfield gets around it.
Jacques Kallis goes under the radar in terms of greatness, but I would put him above that because he really was a great cricketer. Not the best.
Was he Garry Sobers? No. Did he put you on the edge of your seat? No. Sobers did it, Sir Ian Botham did it, Ben Stokes did it.
Garry Sobers was hailed as the best batsman ever and he also bowed medium pace or spin
Would you pay to watch him? No.
Statistics are there to discuss, but sometimes you have to look past the numbers.
Yes, Jacques Kallis has the most extraordinary numbers and I remember Kevin Pietersen making the same argument as Dan Lawrence that he must be the greatest of them all. But here’s a question.
How many Kallis innings or bowling spells can you remember? It’s a bit like Sachin Tendulkar and batting. Greatness is there, but where is the flair and brilliance?
English all-rounder Ian Botham was a great entertainer with flair and genius
Last January I said that Ben Stokes can now stand the comparison with Lord Ian Botham as the greatest all-rounder and I believe that Stokes can outperform Botham in time.
But for now there is only one winner with an apology to Sir Garfield Sobers – Lord Beef.
You could say that Jacques Kallis is the best cricket player of all time, as long as you are clear about the parameters: the greatest batsman can only be Don Bradman.
Kallis’s stats are sensational: 13,829 Test runs at 55 and 292 wickets at 32. That’s before you mention his 11,579 runs and 273 wickets in ODIs.
But if we’re being picky, he missed the charisma of Garry Sobers, who averaged 57 with the bat and 34 with the ball, and could seam up, slow left arm orthodox, and wrist spin.
I’d go Sobers first, followed by Kallis, then Ian Botham and Imran Khan.
The numbers tell us that Jacques Kallis was the most influential player in Test history, winning the man-of-the-match award 23 times.
At times he took the beating of South Africa to new heights. On others he stood out with the ball. He also caught skid pigeons. Its true greatness, however, was its long life. Standards never dropped during 166 performances.
Almost twice as many games as Garry Sobers, the one I would place him on as a batting all-rounder.