On a normal day out in the field, there are pats on the back offered for really different reasons. Usually, the biggest applause is reserved for the batsman who ends up scoring a century, or, someone with a vital match-saving fifty. Then, there are the bowlers with a five-wicket-haul or, a crucial game-changing spell.
To see a congratulatory back on the pat is all too common in this great game. It happens all the time.
But rare are occasions where the game gets a pat on the back.
What are those moments like? Surreal? Rare?
In inducting Jacques Henry Kallis into the Hall of Fame of cricket, cricket has truly given itself a pat on the back.
Jack Kallis last wielded the cricket bat in quintessential beast-mode on December 26, 2013.
We are already seven years into the sport minus its greatest ‘mega’ sight; observing the man-mountain frame holding on inning together, noting a fury-hit batsman-rattler rushing up to the popping crease.
It’s taken the ICC nearly 2,450 days to induct Jack Kallis into the quintessential Hall of Fame.
In a game of serious statistics, what other serious stat could possibly matter?
But congratulations, the kinds of which Kallis was himself responsible for- whether through this defiant 111 at SCG or the 10-wicket-win his heroism helped generate in 2013- are about.
Though, you are not sure if Jack Kallis’ induction into the ICC Hall of Fame would compel one to launch fireworks in the clear Cape Town skies.
Kallis wasn’t Sachin- up first, a fact. His retirement didn’t bring a country onto his knees or to a state of standstill.
He didn’t write an obscure-looking Instagram post announcing that that was the end of the line, such as the one that got millions of Indians- understandably so- gasping.
Nor did he walk up after a one-dayer to ask, “Did I entertain?”
The question is, did he need to?
For all that Jack Kallis achieved with sheer unwithering consistency and next-to-faultless application, he made the game a spectacle of obstinacy.
He made it a harrowing experience.
When you spoke of Jack Kallis, you didn’t remain in awe of his flamboyance; for there simply wasn’t any.
When you spotted Jack Kallis in the middle, you didn’t die in anticipation of the next princely boundary.
In a game often decorated by aesthetics, Jack Kallis, if not for anything else, reminded us of the value to stick with the basics.
The powers of concentration. The grinding fitness schedule. The desire to quietly getting better.
In a game that often liberally included theatrics, still does- McGrath actually asking Sarwan what Lara tasted like (and still getting away), Virat Kohli, time and again, reverberating on the middle stump mic for words any parent would dare not use in front of their child- Kallis was the quiet enigma.
He was unfashionable, lacked color, and dare one say, boring.
But that’s where the Kallis-legend was born.
You know you are on the right track when your teammates appreciate you. But you are on a different plane altogether when the world tips its hat to you.
Even when doubted whether his presence would add anything valuable to franchise T20Is, Kallis punched 2427 IPL runs striking 17 fifties and hitting 44 sixes.
At times, appearing akin to a Jazz vocalist on a heavy-metal stage, even amid the mind-bogglingly loud ‘care-a-darn’ attitude of T20s, Kallis was all grace and a man of his own class.
Caring little for what others thought of him and practicing nearly monk-like abstinence from bull-shit, Jack Kallis decided to build his game.
Look what it birthed.
24,868 runs, 144 half-centuries, 62 centuries, along with 565 wickets.
But it would be unfair to think of Kallis’ greatest contribution to the game as being those sterling numbers he left behind for us to marvel at.
Imagine how many might he have inspired to take up the game where there just can’t be another like him, with an overwhelming majority contending that the first-of-his-kinds was Sir Garry Sobers.
So if the ICC have finally chosen to induct the great man in its tall order of legends, it’s only fair and just; for Kallis’ presence in a league of their own only raises the bar higher.
The only question his induction, however, imposes is what took cricket’s premier think-tank so long to act on one of its greatest sons?