Former South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis in a recent interview to a cricket portal has backed his decision to retire from one-day cricket just months ahead of the 2015 World Cup. Kallis had earlier retired from Tests in December 2013. In the interview, Kallis reiterated that he knew his time was up following his triple failures in Sri Lanka. He added that the day he felt playing cricket was becoming a burden, he would hang up his gloves, which is exactly what he did following the one-day series in Sri Lanka. It must have been a tough decision, but kudos to Kallis for taking the brave step.
Taking a call on his/ her retirement is one of the toughest decisions of a sportspersons' career. After all, for a sportsman, the game is a part of his life, something which he has done day in and day out for a major part of his life, even staying away from his family for most part. Deciding to part with the game would thus be akin to losing a part of yourself, or giving away something you cherish the most. It is a cruel call, at times, but one that is a harsh reality, and that which cannot be avoided. Not everyone gets the timing right, but in the case of Kallis, one cannot but agree with the timing of his decision to walk away, in spite of the World Cup being so close.
Some may be of the opinion that Kallis could have walked out on a high, in case he could have featured in a winning World Cup campaign in Australia and New Zealand. And, while that does sound enticing, fairy tales are not always scripted in cricket, like it was in the case of Sachin Tendulkar and Imran Khan. Had Kallis played the World Cup, it might well have been an anti-climatic end for him, like it was for Allan Donald at the 2003 edition. Remember, Kallis had candidly admitted that he isn't confident of his batting anymore. Under the circumstances, his chances of failure were high, and fans wouldn't have wanted the legend to go out struggling.
The timing of Kallis' retirement is a lesson for future veterans on how to time their exit. Many recent greats, including Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting played on for longer than they should have as they were past their prime. A couple of decades back even Kapil Dev embarrassed himself by playing on and on to achieve the Test world record of most wickets. All these names are as legendary as Kallis, but the difference is that they couldn't come to terms with their declining skills. And, as Ian Chappell often says, it is better to retire when people ask why instead of why not.
Choking is another issue that was discussed during the interview. It is a known fact that Kallis has been part of teams that have faltered in big moments of major tournaments. Kallis revealed that the chokers tag was overrated, and that the term was a joke in the team. While, it cannot be totally denied that South Africa crumbled under pressure many times, it is also true that they have been unlucky on various occasions. Of course, the legend of Kallis would have grown stronger had he won a World Cup. But, South Africa can still try and win the 2015 edition for Kallis.
--By A Cricket Analyst