Jacques Kallis will be 39 by the time the next World Cup commences in Australia and New Zealand in February 2015. The worlds premier all-rounder,after taking a break earlier this year,has made a commitment to extend his one-day international career into its nineteenth season. So its safe to say that Kallis believes he has enough in the tank to play in two formats for at least another 18 months.
If Kallis is unable to meet the demands of the increased workload he last played an ODI in February 2012 the selectors may overlook him for the World Cup. But when it comes to Tests,Kallis,in spite of a minor slump no century in 14 innings remains a bulwark in the Proteas lineup.
The fact that he believes there is a second wind around the corner and that his body can handle the increased workload of playing ODIs and Tests recent niggles,including back spasms and a calf injury,were a cause of worry for Cricket South Africa means the South African will have a crack at going past Sachin Tendulkars tally of 51 Test tons.
The numbers do favour him. Among the top 10 century makers in Test cricket,Kallis is the only active batsman with over 35 Test hundreds.
A comparison of the careers of Tendulkar and Kallis at a similar stage indicates that Kallis is well-placed to have a shot at Tendulkars record number of Test tons. After 164 Tests,the Indian had 45 Test centuries and had made 13,234 runs at an average of 55.37. Kallis has 44 hundreds and 13,140 runs,which have come at 55.44.
Between now and the World Cup,Kallis will play two Tests against India at home,three Tests versus Australia at home and at least two Tests against Zimbabwe. South Africa are also scheduled to travel to Australia and play the West Indies at home towards the last quarter of 2014.
Now,with Tendulkar retired,Kallis will for the first time in his career know the number he has to chase in terms of runs and centuries. And that clarity itself could spur Kallis on like never before.
(Nihal in a senior assistant editor,based in New Delhi)