South African head coach Mark Boucher said on Thursday that he wanted Jacques Kallis, his long-time friend and former batting star, back in his coaching set-up.
Boucher was speaking on the eve of South Africa’s departure for Pakistan, where they will play two Test matches, starting in Karachi on January 26.
Kallis, South Africa’s leading all-time Test run-scorer, is currently in Sri Lanka as a batting consultant with the England team on a short-term contract.
But Boucher said Kallis “is on my radar” to return in a consultancy role ahead of a planned but unconfirmed Test series against Australia starting in mid-February.
Kallis took on the England job after Kugandrie Govender, then the acting chief executive of Cricket South Africa, said in September that the organisation would no longer hire white consultants. Kallis was a batting consultant for South Africa in their home series against England in 2019-’20.
Govender later said exceptions could be made if white consultants had unique skills – and she has since been suspended by CSA’s interim board in the wake of an upheaval during which the entire previous board resigned.
Judith February, a member of the interim board, signalled a change of policy earlier this month when she said CSA’s accelerated racial transformation policy had been put on ice.
Boucher said he had not spoken to anyone from CSA on the transformation issue but said the original decision to block white consultants was “a bit of a pill to swallow”.
With the exception of former captain Faf du Plessis, who captained a World XI in a Twenty20 series in 2019, none of the South African players have experience of playing in a country which South Africa have not toured since 2007-’08.
Kallis hit three centuries in two Test matches on that tour, scoring 421 runs at an average of 210.50 in a South African series win so he would be ideally suited to offering advice to a largely inexperienced batting line-up.
No ‘buddy selection’
“The media have been saying he’s my mate and it’s a buddy selection,” Boucher said of Kallis, the third-highest run-scorer in Test history behind India’s Sachin Tendulkar and Australia’s Ricky Ponting.
“Yes, he is a mate of a mine but he’s also a very good cricketer and he can add a lot of knowledge as well, so why wouldn’t we want him back in our set-up?
“Now that it’s been documented in the press that the rules have been changed a bit, he is certainly someone we would like to get back in a consultancy role. I haven’t had any major conversations with Jacques because he is in Sri Lanka now but certainly in the next short period of time, if we can get him involved soon, maybe against Australia, then we must.
“There are a lot of players who have spoken highly of Jacques and the knowledge that he imparted to them. So, yes, he is on my radar. I just hope we treat him with care. He’s shown that he’s got a lot of other opportunities in world cricket so it would be stupid not to try to hang on to him, as long as we don’t mess him around. I know Jacques would love to be working in South African cricket.”
Speaking Wednesday from Galle, Kallis – while expressing sadness at the way his time working with South Africa had ended – said he understood the broader context.
“It’s the times we’re in. There are many other coaches who have gone on to coach other teams –- Gary Kirsten, for example. It’s the modern way of the world,” Kallis said.
“It’s sad in a way that I can’t help out in South Africa but I’m thoroughly enjoying my time here in the England set-up.”
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