South African cricket has said goodbye to arguably its greatest cricketer and the world has bid adieu to undoubtedly the greatest all-round career since Sir Garfield Sobers played his last international match in the early 1970s. Jacques Kallis announced his retirement from all international cricket -- he had retired from Test cricket late last year after the Durban Test against India in which he scored a match-winning hundred -- on Wednesday, terming his dream of playing in next year's Cricket World Cup was "a bridge too far".
He said when he announced his Test retirement that his one remaining ambition -- having helped South Africa to the number one ranking in Tests, including series wins in both England and Australia -- was to be part of a World Cup-winning side.
Kallis, 38, scored just five runs in three innings in a recent one-day international series in Sri Lanka.
"I realised in Sri Lanka that my dream of playing in a World Cup was a bridge too far," Kallis said.
"I just knew on that tour that I was done. The squad that was in Sri Lanka is an amazing one and I believe they have a good chance of bringing the trophy home in March.
"I would like to thank Cricket South Africa, the team, the team sponsors, my sponsors, the fans and all the people who have been involved in my career. It has been an amazing journey.”
There could hardly have been a greater contrast between his exit from Test cricket, when he was carried aloft by team-mates on a lap of honour, and his final international appearance at a wind-swept Hambantota in southern Sri Lanka when he was leg before wicket to left-arm spinner Rangana Herath after labouring to four runs off ten balls.
But he finished his one-day career with an outstanding record. In 328 matches he scored 11,579 runs at an average of 44.36, with 17 centuries and 86 fifties. He took 273 wickets at an average of 31.79, conceding only 4.84 runs an over. He was man of the match on 32 occasions.
South African one-day captain AB de Villiers said Kallis' experience and tactical knowledge would be missed.
"His value and statistics on the field speak volumes, but his presence in the change room and willingness to teach the youngsters was immense," said De Villiers.
"He has played a big role personally for me since making my debut for South Africa in 2004, and is a huge loss for South African cricket.
"It's unfortunate that he won't be making the journey with us to the World Cup but we will definitely carry his resilience and professionalism with us out on the field."
Test captain Hashim Amla said Kallis was "a legend".
"Sportsmen like him only come around once every five decades," said Amla.
"He is an astute professional who always gave one hundred per cent for his country and I believe a lot of youngsters coming up can learn a lot from the way he shaped his career.
"He will be sorely missed in the dressing room, and in the slips where he was a trademark figure. It has been a pleasure to have shared the crease with him on a number of occasions and I wish him well for the future. He has earned his break."
Kallis was sometimes criticised for scoring too slowly in one-day games. His batting strike rate of 72.89 was relatively modest but he was respected by his team-mates as an excellent judge of the tempo required to win a match. When Kallis scored runs, South Africa usually won.
He will continue to play Twenty20 cricket, saying he intends to honour contracts with the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League and the Sydney Thunder in Australia's Big Bash.