Former great lends expertise to England batsmen in Sri Lanka, and is open to further work
Jacques Kallis has admitted he is “sad” to be unable to use his experience to help the next generation of South African cricketers, but is enjoying his time working with England instead.
Kallis, arguably the greatest cricketer South Africa have produced, found himself surplus to requirements in their coaching set-up after Cricket South Africa (CSA) started to apply an affirmative action policy to the recruitment of consultants.
While this policy is not set in stone, it does encourage more usage of non-white coaches. And with South Africa already having a white director of cricket (Graeme Smith), head coach (Mark Boucher) and high performance batting coach (Neil McKenzie), Kallis has not been utilised by them since the end of England’s tour of the country at the start of 2020.
Despite “a few” South Africa players expressing a desire to work with him in recent weeks, Kallis says he “wasn’t allowed” to help them. As a result, he has accepted a short-term role as batting consultant with England. And while there are currently no plans to extend that role beyond the current tour of Sri Lanka, both sides are open to discussing it further in the coming weeks.
“It’s sad in a way that I can’t help out in South Africa,” Kallis said from Galle, “but I’m thoroughly enjoying my time here and my time in the England set-up. I’m certainly going to give them as much of my knowledge and time as I can to move them forward.
“I wasn’t allowed to be involved with that South African side because Cricket South Africa said there would be no more white consultants. So unfortunately that fell away and this opportunity of helping England out came about and I took it with both hands.
“So no I haven’t been able to be involved with the SA guys over the last couple of months. There were a few [quite keen to do so], but unfortunately there was that rule so it was pretty much taken out of my hands.
“I suppose it’s the way of our country: a lot of players have fallen away because of needing players of colour involved. It’s tough but we understand where it comes from. It is sad, but it’s the times we are living in at the moment.”
It has appeared, in recent days, that CSA have softened their stance on the affirmative action to ensure they have more coaching talent available. But if that is the case, nobody appears to have told Kallis.
“I haven’t heard anything like that,” he says. “At the moment, I’m concentrating on this role and this tour.
“Like I said, we’ve lost a few players – whatever the reasons – overseas. It’s the times we’re in. There are many other coaches who have gone on to coach other teams – Gary Kirsten, for example – so there’s lots of guys. It’s the modern way of the world.”
The England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) are currently searching for an ‘elite batting coach’. While Kallis says he has not applied – and the closing date has now passed – he is clearly open-minded about extending his connection with England. But it doesn’t appear he will be involved when they move on to India, with family responsibilities taking priority.
“We’ll go through this tour and then see what the future holds,” he says. “The appointment is just for the Sri Lanka leg. I’ve a 10-month old at home and my wife broke her foot just before I came over here. So the appointment was only for Sri Lanka.
“But I must admit I am enjoying my time here. As I say, we’ll see where it goes and reassess where we are and make a call then.”
It speaks volumes for the diaspora of southern African sporting talent, that it is a player of similar heritage who seems to be most exciting Kallis within the England set-up. Although Sam Curran was born in the UK, his father and grandfather represented Zimbabwe (or Rhodesia) and, given a different turn of political and economic events, it is not unreasonable to suggest Sam may have followed. Either way, Kallis clearly thinks he has a bright future.
“He certainly has a lot of talent,” Kallis says. “And he’s willing to learn. He’s a hard worker and a great kid, as well. I see a lot of potential in him.
“Is he the best young all-rounder in the world? Yes, from a young point of view, I do think so. He is certainly right up there.
“All-rounders are so vital to the balance of a team. And being a left-arm seamer adds some variety. Here he’s excited to be taking over the Ben Stokes role. There’s no doubt he wants to get stuck in. He wants it; he’s hungry. There are exciting times for him ahead.”
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
India v England 3rd Test Ahemedabad – Virat Kohli – Spinners left no room for others in bizarre game | Cricket
With the visitors all out for 112 and 81, and India crumbling to 145 in their first innings, Kohli said that batsmen from both sides showed a lack of application. However, Kohli added that the quality of his two primary spinners Axar Patel and R Ashwin – who took 18 of the 20 England wickets – was the eventual difference in the Test that now gives the hosts a 2-1 lead with one match to go.
“The toss result didn’t go our way but I don’t think the quality of batting was at all up to standards from both teams,” Kohli said at the post-match presentation. “I know England got bundled out early, but even with our innings, we were 100 for 3, hoping to make many more than we ended up with. [There was] just a lack of application from both sides. [It was] a very good pitch to bat on – especially in the first innings – and it felt like the ball was coming on nicely with the odd-ball turning. It was just, I would say, below-par batting from both teams. Our bowlers were much more effective and that’s why we got the result.
“It was bizarre that out of the 30 wickets, 21 were off straight balls. I feel that’s just a lapse of concentration, indecision or too many things going in your head as a batter where you are playing for the turn, but getting beaten on the inside. I feel like batsmen need to trust their defence much more than they are presenting at the moment, and Test cricket is all about that – you are not going to get results in two days all the time – and this was a classic example of batsmen not applying themselves enough, and maybe that’s why [it was] such a quick game.”
In the only other pink-ball Test in the country – India vs Bangladesh in Kolkata in 2019 – it was India’s pacers who dominated proceedings but in Ahmedabad, they bowled only 11 overs in the whole Test, with none at all in England’s second innings. Kohli said that with the spinners troubling England so much, the pacers had to take the back seat in this match.
“Bumrah said that ‘I’m getting workload management while playing the game’ while Ishant said that ‘it’s my 100th Test and I can’t get to bowl!” Kohli said. “I said you have to blame this guy [pointing to Axar Patel] who is coming in and bowling in areas that is making life difficult for the batters. The spinners were outstanding in this game, and there was no room for the others to come into the game. A lot of guys didn’t get into the match, and it was just a bizarre game. I don’t think I have ever been part of such a Test match, where things move so quickly, and you wrap it up in two days.”
During the course of the day, Ashwin picked up his 400th Test wicket, to become the second-fastest (in terms of time from debut) to the achievement.
“It’s unbelievable,” Kohli said. “We all need to stand up and take notice of Ashwin’s contribution to Indian cricket. I told him that from now on, I’ll call him ledge [for legend]. Getting 400 is an outstanding achievement, and still so many games and years to go for India. In Test match cricket, he is surely a modern legend and we’re just lucky to have him in our team. As a captain I am so pleased he plays for us.”
As for Patel, who took 11 wickets in his second Test, Kohli said that the bowling allrounder has filled the big gap left by the injured Ravindra Jadeja. Kohli also revealed why exactly Patel was bought into this line up.
“When Jaddu got injured, I’m sure a lot of people [in the opposition] must’ve been relieved. But this guy comes in, bowls probably faster than Jaddu, from a greater height. I don’t know what’s the case with Gujaratis and left-arm spinning allrounders, they seem to be a nightmare for batters,” Kohli laughed and said.
“It’s a testimony to his hard work, his accuracy, which is exactly why we picked him. It’s impossible to sweep him, it’s impossible to defend him all day. For Axar to come in and do this is outstanding.”
Patel, while collecting the Player-of-the-Match award, said that his success has been a result of his ability to maintain a stump-to-stump line against the England batsmen. Since making his debut in the second Chennai Test, he has taken three five-wicket hauls in four innings, and he said that he finds that the temperament of modern batsmen – to try and attack after a few quiet overs – plays into the hands of someone who operates in his manner.
“It looks easy when it clicks, but really tough when it doesn’t,” Axar said. “My strength is that I bowl wicket-to-wicket and don’t give a lot of room to the batsman so that I get a wicket when he makes a mistake. This is what I think while bowling – that I need to make it as much difficult as possible for batsmen to score runs. There is this mindset of batsmen that when they play one or two maiden overs, they try and sweep or play on the up. So I try and bowl as many dot balls to them as possible, which would create pressure and get wickets.”
Ending the conversation with the broadcasters on a lighter note, Patel said that as long as he is getting the wickets, he doesn’t mind the lack of runs from his bat, having scored just seven runs in three innings.
“Now that I’m getting wickets, no one has joked about that,” he said. “Another two or three matches, and I think this joke might happen. But it’s good that if not with the bat, I’m contributing with the ball and that’s the positive I’m taking with me. I hope that [the next match has a similar surface] and also that I continue performing like this.”
Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Ind vs Eng 3rd Test
Australia will pip India to the post – and set up a final against New Zealand – if England win the fourth Test
The ten-wicket win, well inside two days, in the pink-ball Test in Ahmedabad has not only given India an unassailable 2-1 lead in the four-Test series, it’s given them a clear shot at qualifying for the inaugural World Test Championship final. The result in the third Test also means that it’s now a two-horse race to meet New Zealand in the final – Australia vs India – with England’s hopes lying in tatters.
The target for both India and England, before the series, was to top Australia’s points percentage of 69.17. England, having slipped to 64.1 after the latest reversal, cannot get there, but India can, unless England spoil their party in the final exchange.
What India need to do to reach the final
As things stand, India are actually ahead of New Zealand on points percentage. India have 71.0 (490 overall) compared to New Zealand’s 70.0 (420). In terms of the WTC final, India’s target, even before the series had started, was to earn 70 points – having come into the third Test with 30 points for a win and a loss, they needed to win the series 2-1 or 3-1.
They are now at 2-1, but…
What if India lose the final Test?
There, that’s the only way they can’t make the WTC final, which means that though they are out of the hunt themselves, Joe Root’s boys can be killjoys for Virat Kohli’s team, and make Tim Paine and Co very happy. A 2-1 (with a draw in the final Test) or 3-1 scoreline does the job for India, while 2-2, the only other possibility, isn’t good enough for them.
What about the possibility of points being docked…?
A 3-1 series win will be perfect for India, and they don’t have to worry about being docked points for slow over-rates or anything else. Australia might have avoided a lot of the uncertainty had they not dropped four points because of a slow over-rate against India in the Boxing Day Test. Had that not happened, Australia would have been level with New Zealand on 70, which would then have brought the runs-per-wicket ratio into play (that is the ratio of the runs scored per wicket lost, and the runs conceded per wicket taken). Australia’s ratio is currently 1.39 while New Zealand’s is 1.28.
This means Australia would have stayed ahead of New Zealand, and would have been certain of qualification. Now, they will need England to help them out, if they can.
Importantly for India, the WTC rules state that even if the Ahmedabad stadium gets an unfavourable rating from the ICC – the Test got over in under two days, with spinners running amok – the team, India, will not be affected.
Recent Match Report – Victoria vs NSW 13th Match 2020/21
Short finished 80 not out with Harry Conway taking 3 for 31
Victoria 7 for 168 (Short 80*, Conway 3-31) against New South Wales
Victoria batsman Matthew Short made a fighting unbeaten 80 on a rain-interrupted day that was dominated by the New South Wales bowlers at Bankstown Oval.
The players endured multiple interruptions as the rain came and went at regular intervals in Sydney with only 61 overs bowled, but Short stood firm to guide Victoria to stumps having entered at 2 for 16.
Harry Conway picked up three wickets for the Blues as the seamers caused problems on a dark and gloomy day. Pat Cummins and Trent Copeland made the early breakthroughs before Conway took the wickets of Marcus Harris, Jake Fraser-McGurk, and Seb Gotch to leave Victoria struggling at 5 for 94.
Conway did benefit from some loose shots. Harris faced 70 balls for 29 before slicing a catch to gully while Fraser-McGurk hit a half-tracker straight to point.
Short remained patient absorbing 164 balls and striking 10 boundaries on a surface that was difficult to score on. He formed a useful partnership with Will Sutherland late in the day to frustrate the Blues and deny them a chance to wrap up the innings prior to the 7pm finish.
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Melbourne
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