Player Comparisons: Jacques Kallis v/s Andrew Flintoff
No matter what the format is, an all-rounder is a great asset for any team. He not only brings a better balance to the side but also adds more versatility to the team's batting and bowling departments. In fact, many great teams of the past have constantly featured some quality all-rounders in their ranks. From the legendary Sir Garry Sobers to the fledgeling Ben Stokes, this class of cricketers has always been in demand.
Two such all rounders who had taken the cricketing world by storm in their own way are South Africa's Jacques Kallis and England's Andrew Flintoff. Equally effective with both bat and ball, Kallis and Flintoff played major roles in helping their teams achieve some memorable victories.
So, let's take a look at the comparison of these two careers to get better insights into what it takes to be a quality all-rounder.
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Both the stars were pivotal to the success of their respective teams with the willow in hand. While Kallis owned the number three slot of his team, Flintoff mainly batted at the number five and number six positions.
Kallis holds the merit of surpassing the 10,000 run mark in both ODIs and Tests. All the formats put together, he has amassed more than 25,000 runs, consisting of 62 international centuries, and formed the spine of the South African batting for many years. Equipped with a sound technique, he had the capability to play as per the situation on any kind of wicket. Widely regarded as one of the most consistent batsmen to have ever played the game, the current KKR coach has certainly made his name into the list of all-time batting legends.
Flintoff, meanwhile, added flair to the English batting order which was predominantly an old-fashioned one. Being a natural hitter of the cricket ball, the man from Lancashire had the capability of taking the game away from the opposition with some lusty blows.
Often compared with Ian Botham, Freddie, as he's famously known, played some crucial match-winning knocks for his side. Even though he was not as consistent and technically-sound as the South African, Flintoff was special in his own way. His aggressive batting brought the crowds to the ground and get their monies worth.
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Both all rounders had naturally well built-frames that were supportive to fast bowling. They had the ability to bowl equally effectively with both the new ball and the old. Flintoff enjoyed the seaming conditions of England, where he more often than not caught batsmen wanting with his swinging deliveries that were delivered at raw pace.
While Flintoff was one of England's major weapon in the pace bowling department, Kallis generally played the second fiddle to the likes of Alan Donald and Shaun Pollock. Kallis troubled the batsmen with his accurate lines and even used to disguise them with clever changes of paces.
Freddie played a pivotal role in England's famous 2005 Ashes series victory. He, along with Steven Harmison, bowled some of the most hostile spells in the Ashes history and accounted for most of the Aussie wickets. Flintoff ended his international career with a wicket tally of 395 and is one of England's most aggressive cricketers.
On the other hand, Kallis came to the captain's rescue whenever the team required some wickets. Be it his inswingers, or the deadly bouncers or even his off-cutters, he had many tricks in his repertoire to test the batsman's technique. Over his career, Kallis had developed the tendency of picking up wickets at regular intervals and went to scalp as many as 565 wickets in his international career.
The final word
An all-rounder's body needs to cope with a lot of working load. Right from the net sessions to the end of a game, the game puts an immense demand on them. From playing a responsible knock to bowling long spells, their bodies get worn away in the process and might even lead to early retirements from the game.
While Flintoff's career received many setbacks due to injuries, Kallis' was a largely injury-free one. This stands a true testament to his fitness over a career that lasted 18 years. Thanks to his cricketing abilities and fitness levels, Kallis emerged as, arguably, the greatest all-rounders the game has ever seen.
To the other side of the coin, the career of Flintoff will remain as a case of "what might have been". It's a shame that a cricketing talent such as him had to put a full stop on his career owing to injuries and inconsistency.
It's therefore imperative for all the upcoming all-rounders to strike a perfect balance between the batting and bowling work loads. They should look up to Jacques Kallis and try to forge a career that includes both, consistency and longevity.
All things said and done, Kallis will go down as one of the greatest cricketers of all time and Flintoff will be remembered as a flamboyant Ashes hero and one of England's most influential cricketers.