How does Kallis rank against the greatest all-rounders

Jacques Kallis can claim to be the most influential player in Test history… but how does the South African icon rank against the greatest all-rounders including Ian Botham and Garry Sobers?

  • Kallis was named man-of-the-match on 23 occasions during his career
  • Garry Sobers was a superb batsman and he also bowled medium pace or spin 
  • England all-rounder Ian Botham was a great entertainer with flair and brilliance 

South African icon Jacques Kallis boasts the most extraordinary numbers: 13,829 Test runs at 55, 292 wickets at 32 and man of the match on 23 occasions.

Kallis, the newest member of England’s support staff, has every right to be compared with the likes of Sir Garfield Sobers, Lord Ian Botham, Imran Khan, Kapil Dev, Sir Richard Hadlee, Wasim Akram and Ben Stokes.

But who is the greatest of all time? Sportsmail’s experts deliver their verdict. 

Jacques Kallis was named man-of-the-match on 23 occasions during his distinguished career

It would be very difficult to argue against Jacques Kallis. One of the greatest batsmen of all time; one of the greatest catchers; someone who could bowl outswingers touching 90mph. 

But you could also argue cricket is an entertainment business. The only candidate to challenge him is Garry Sobers. 

Many good judges say he was the best batsman they ever saw and he bowled either left-arm medium pace or spin. That’s special. 

Yes, the game is about runs and wickets but in watchability — the swashbuckling backlift, the six sixes in an over — you would have to say Sir Garfield edges it.


David Lloyd

Jacques Kallis goes under the radar in terms of greatness but I would put him right up there as he was a truly wonderful cricketer. Not the best. 

Was he Garry Sobers? No. Did he get you on the edge of your seat? No. Sobers did, Sir Ian Botham did, Ben Stokes does. 

Garry Sobers was hailed as the best batsman ever and he also bowled medium pace or spin

Would you pay to watch him? No. 

Statistics are there to be discussed but sometimes you must look past the numbers.


Paul Newman

Yes, Jacques Kallis has the most extraordinary numbers and I remember Kevin Pietersen advocating the same argument as Dan Lawrence that he must be the greatest of them all. But here’s a question. 

How many Kallis innings or bowling spells can you remember? It’s a bit like Sachin Tendulkar and batting. Greatness is there but where’s the flair and the brilliance? 

England all-rounder Ian Botham was a great entertainer with flair and brilliance

I said in these pages last January that Ben Stokes can now stand comparison with Lord Ian Botham as the greatest all-rounder and I believe Stokes can surpass Botham in time. 

But for now there is only one winner with apologies to Sir Garfield Sobers — Lord Beef.


Lawrence Booth

You might argue Jacques Kallis is the greatest cricketer of all-time, as long as you’re clear about the parameters: the greatest batsman can only be Don Bradman. 

Kallis’s stats are sensational: 13,829 Test runs at 55 and 292 wickets at 32. That’s before you mention his 11,579 runs and 273 wickets in ODIs. 

But, if we’re being picky, he lacked the charisma of Garry Sobers, who averaged 57 with the bat and 34 with the ball, and could bowl seam-up, slow left-arm orthodox and wrist-spin. 

I’d go Sobers first, followed by Kallis, then Ian Botham and Imran Khan.


Richard Gibson

The numbers tell us that Jacques Kallis was the most influential player in Test history, winning the man-of-the-match award on 23 occasions. 

At times he took South Africa’s batting to new heights. On others, he was the stand-out with the ball. He also caught pigeons at slip. His true greatness, though, was his longevity. The standards never dropped across 166 appearances. 

Nearly twice as many matches as Garry Sobers, the ones man I would place him behind as a batting all-rounder.


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