Jacques Kallis is undoubtedly one of the greatest South African cricketers of all time. One of the best all-rounders the game of cricket has ever seen. Jacques Kallis, Head Coach of Kolkata Knight Riders, believes that the ‘century of centuries’ is certainly not out of Indian skipper Viral Kohli’s reach.
Speaking to reporters in a pre-season press conference at the Eden Gardens on Wednesday, Kallis said, “He (Virat) will go as far as he wants. He is an extremely fit and hungry cricketer, and he has proved that over the years. People enjoy watching him bat. Who knows what he can achieve?”
Talking about KKR’s chances in IPL 12, the South African said that his team is as balanced as it can possibly be. “We will have to play on a lot of different wickets throughout the tournament. I think we’ve got all our bases covered. Having said that, the boys will have to perform on the field. It doesn’t matter what the teams look like”, he said.
Kallis feels that the addition of fast bowlers such as Lockie Ferguson and Harry Gurney has bolstered his bowling department. When asked about the balance of his side, the forty-three-year-old replied, “The batsmen really did well last season. We just needed two or three international seamers going into the auction, whom we have managed to procure. So, the team make up looks really exciting!”
Windies all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite was purchased by Kolkata Knight Riders for INR 5 crore at the last auction, and his availability promises to add more firepower to a batting line-up, which already boasts of big hitters like Chris Lynn and Andre Russell. “There are a lot of good power hitters in our side. It hasn’t been decided yet as to what combination we are going to come up with”, Kallis stated.
The full group stage schedule of IPL 2019 was released by the BCCI on Tuesday, which shows that each of the eight franchises will play all its home games at its regular home venue. According to the KKR Head Coach, it is a ‘massive bonus’ for his team to have been given the green signal to play all its home games at the Eden Gardens.
Injury has been a frequent visitant in the KKR camp over the past few seasons. Last year, it was Mitchell Starc and Kamlesh Nagarkoti, who missed out on the entire tournament. This season, the likes of Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi and South Africa’s Anrich Nortje have been ruled out, even prior to the start of the tournament. Kallis though, feels that his team has good back-up options this season. “We are happy with the recruits we made at the last auction. If there are one or two injuries, we’ve able replacements for the injured players”, he added.
With the ICC Cricket World Cup just three two months away, the issue of ‘workload management’ has become a raging topic of discussion in cricketing circles. What are Kallis’ own views on this? “We’re not silly when it comes to that (workload management). The guys are all professional. They all know when to rest. We’ve a wonderful support staff working together with the players. We’ve full confidence in our physiotherapists and trainers”, the former all-rounder opined.
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Not one to pick a favourite for the World Cup, Kallis reckons that it is going to be an ‘open’ tournament. How does he rate South Africa’s chances? “Probably we are the least favourite team this time around, but sometimes it’s not a bad thing. It takes the pressure off them. I think they can go through to the semis if they play some good cricket at the right moments. [You] cannot write them off”, he said.
Many experts have said that Virat Kohli is not as comfortable as a captain when M.S. Dhoni is not around. However, Kallis thinks Kohli is not under too much of pressure, even in Dhoni’s absence. “He (Kohli) has played a lot of international cricket over the years, and the boys follow whatever he does. He is certainly one of the best in the world!”, he affirmed.
About the South African players signing KOLPAK deals one after the other, Kallis said, “It is unfortunate, but it is a living that we do. The guys make their own calls. It would be nice to keep the players in South Africa, but you’ll have to look at their interests too.”