Jacques Kallis was left out of South Africa’s squad for the Champions Trophy on Thursday after making himself unavailable for personal reasons and will miss a major international one-day tournament for the first time in nearly two decades,reviving speculation that he is close to retirement.
Head selector Andrew Hudson said South Africa’s management respected the 37-year-old Kallis’ wish to be left out of the 15-man group,but did not disclose his reasons. “That was Jacques’ request (to be left out) and we were respectful of that,” Hudson said,adding that it did not necessarily mean Kallis’ 17-year,321-game ODI career was over. “He was and he is a great cricketer for South Africa,but I think it’s a little too early to speculate (on his future).
Kallis has limited his ODI appearances in the past few seasons in an attempt to prolong his career and play at the 2015 World Cup,but despite last appearing in a one-day international over a year ago,he was still expected to be in the Champions Trophy squad.
Batsmen JP Duminy and Faf du Plessis were included after they recovered from injuries to make the squad and AB de Villiers was named as captain. Former limited-overs skipper and opening batsman Graeme Smith also was picked as was South Africa’s top bowler,Dale Steyn,while left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso claimed a surprise place for the tournament in England and Wales next month.
However,much of the focus will be on the absence of Kallis and what it means for the future of arguably South Africa’s greatest ever cricketer and one of the world’s best allrounders. Kallis made his one-day debut in 1996 and has been a constant force for South Africa at major ODI tournaments since. More recently,he has defied predictions that he is close to international retirement by producing quality performances and stressing that he had no immediate plans to give up Test or one-day cricket while he was still enjoying playing.
National selectors have allowed him to manage his ODI appearances,however,and save himself for major tournaments. South Africa’s most successful Test and ODI batsman aside from his bowling Kallis recently sat out a number of bilateral one-day series in an attempt to make the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand,when he will be nearly 40.
His decision to make himself unavailable might have been based on his desire to appear at the next World Cup,but,currently playing in the Indian Premier League,his absence came as a surprise. Without Kallis,batsman David Miller earned a place in the squad and Ryan McLaren,Rory Kleinveldt and spinners Robin Peterson and Duminy would provide options as allrounders.
Kallis was the Proteas’ best player when they won the first Champions Trophy in 1998. That is still South Africa’s only major ODI success after an infamous run of constant failures at limited-overs tournaments earned the Proteas the unwanted tag of “chokers” at big events.
But that run of failures may have also inspired Kallis to continue playing ODIs and target,like India great Sachin Tendulkar in 2011,a World Cup success as the one honor missing from an outstanding career.
Squad: AB de Villiers (captain),Hashim Amla,Farhaan Behardien,JP Duminy,Faf du Plessis,Colin Ingram,Rory Kleinveldt,Ryan McLaren,David Miller,Morne Morkel,Robin Peterson,Aaron Phangiso,Graeme Smith,Dale Steyn,Lonwabo Tsotsobe.