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Colossus Kallis Vs Cavalier Ponting set for cricketing combat at Cape Town: Roebuck

November 5, 2011 - Sydney

Over the next fortnight, Jacques Kallis and Ricky Ponting, the colossus and the cavalier, will go into cricketing combat probably for the last time.

While Kallis appears as eternal as Table Mountain, it's an illusion, as time stands still for no man. Ponting is a sprightly fellow, but he's slowing down in mind and foot. Before long, the greatest cricketer one country has produced, and one of the best batsmen its rival has unearthed, will go the way of all flesh, says cricket columnist Peter Roebuck.

"These fellows count amongst the four greatest batsmen of the era. Most observers place them a fraction below Brian Lara, the twinkle-toed genius, and Sachin Tendulkar, master of classical and contemporary," says Roebuck in his syndicated column for The Sydney Morning Herald.

"In part it has been a question of style. Lara could scintillate; Tendulkar's strokes are etched in perfection. Beside them, Kallis can seem ponderous and Ponting pragmatic, " he adds.

He further states that both Kallis and Ponting are not as exciting as Lara and Tendulkar, but they have been almost as effective.

"Both belonged to great traditions, the stoical African and the bold Australian. Recently, though, responsibility and the requirements of age have brought their games closer together and nowadays they bat in the same position and advance at about the same pace. They have met in the middle," says Roebuck.

Kallis, according to Roebuck, remains the most underestimated batsman of the era.

"To a fault he built a shell around his character and a wall around his wicket. At times his conservatism and nursing of figures has been held against him. But it has not been a smooth passage. Kallis grew up in a simpler, isolated world and expected to play his cricket by those lights. Instead he was pushed by political decree into a time of complication and change. Although he kept his thoughts to himself, the compromises meant that South Africa did not share his single-minded striving for excellence. Maybe, hereabouts, he put a few more bricks in the wall," Roebuck adds.

Kallis, 36, has played 478 matches for his country and scored 11,947 Test runs at an average of 57.

Ponting, almost 37, also began as a brash and brilliant youngster willing to hook the fastest speedsters, prepared to use his feet to spinners and eager to dominate as soon as he had settled.

"His journey has been from dashing and occasionally imprudent youngster to respected elder. It is a transformation that has been impressively accomplished, though recognition has been grudging because the temper of youth is never entirely stilled," says Roebuck.

Ponting is no longer the batsman of yore, but his stature is beyond question.

He has played 541 matches for Australia and averages 53 in Test cricket. Not that statistics alone signify, but Lara averaged 52 and Tendulkar stands at 56.

Both can reflect on their careers with immense satisfaction. Not that either man is ready to look back. Both are primed for combat in Cape Town, Roebuck concludes.


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