Kallis in different league
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Have you ever played fantasy cricket? The rules are simple. Assign one point per run, 20 for a wicket and 10 for a catch/stumping and choose your best eleven to rake in maximum points. Now, to make things a little interesting, if you had to use the framework of fantasy cricket to guess the Most Valuable Player of all time in Test cricket, who would it be?
Will you guess the name of a full-time batsman or a bowler? If so, let's begin with the greatest. The world's highest Test run-getter, Sachin Tendulkar, weighs in at 17, 685 points (15,645runs x 1 + 45 wickets x 20 + 114 catches x 10). Going by the same calculations, the greatest bowler, Muttiah Muralitharan is a shade higher at 17, 981 points. Incidentally, both Sachin and Murali are outshone by Shane Warne (18,564 points). For he stood at second slip and could bat a bit too.
If you are now thinking of all-rounders, you are on the right track. And if your answer is Jacques Kallis, pat yourself on the back and curse yourself for not thinking of him earlier. With 13,040 runs, 282 wickets and 192 catches — an all-rounder's all-rounder — who else could have ever been? Kallis' fantasy numbers buzzers in with 20,600 points. No one else has crossed the 20,000 mark.
The above is a simple but effective exercise to compare the worth of cricketers with different abilities on a common scale — considering runs, wickets, catches and stumpings are all boiled down to a single unit of points. It also brings to the fore the real worth of Kallis. Not just to all-rounders, but to cricket itself.
In an epoch where batsmen predominately fight for the title of the 'greatest player of the modern era' tag, Kallis has quietly gone about his many businesses — batting at one drop, bowling first change and fielding in the cordon — better than any other with a specific skill-set. So much so that he is within sniffing distance of both 'most Test runs' and 'most Test catches'.
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