Kallis focussed only on series success
The omens are far from encouraging for South Africa, and their pivotal all-rounder Jacques Kallis, for the first Investec Test at the Kia Oval.
Even the tourists’ Test success on their last two trips to England have included defeats, by nine and six wickets, at this venue - the scene of Devon Malcolm’s demolition job on their 1994 side.
As for the veteran Kallis, a prolific international run-scorer for the past 17 years, those last two Test series in England - a draw in 2003, which retained the Basil D'Oliveira Trophy, and win in 2008 - were largely barren summers by his prolific standards.
His last attempt, in particular, brought paltry returns - barely 100 runs in seven innings, featuring five single-figure scores, and resulting in an average under 15.
The 36-year-old - who doubles up as a fourth seamer to give an enviable balance to the South Africa line-up - is not about to fret about historical statistics, though.
“I’m not someone who worries too much about what happened in the last innings or on previous tours,” he said. “You don’t get a head start if you’ve done well in a previous innings or previous tours.
“You start with nought behind your name. It’s not like Formula One, where you get pole position. It would be nice to have a good tour here but, if I have a bad tour and we win, I’ll take that.”
Whoever takes the individual honours over the three-match Investec Test series, which will get under way on Thursday, Kallis is one of many predicting a wonderful spectacle and hard-fought battle for world supremacy.
“I don’t think there is a reason why we haven’t played well here,” he said of South Africa’s winless run in their 10 Test visits to the the Oval to date.
“We’ve got to do what we’ve been doing for the last couple of weeks and not worry about the ground or the opposition. They are two good attacks, certainly as good as any in world cricket at the moment.
“Both sides have got good batters as well. It’s going to be a fantastic series.”
Graeme Smith is set for his 100th Test, and Kallis expects the tourists to raise their game to try to mark their captain’s milestone in style - as well as do Mark Boucher proud, after the career-ending eye injury he suffered at Taunton last week.
“It’s a special achievement to play 100 Tests,” Kallis said of Smith. “He’s been captain for most of them as well - which is an incredible effort.
“He’s contributed massively. At times he’s been criticised unfairly. The role he has played in South African cricket has been fantastic.”
As for Boucher, back home in South Africa and recently the subject of improved updates on the possibility of him retaining the sight in his left eye, Kallis confirmed the wicketkeeper’s misfortune is sure to redouble resolve for the challenge ahead.
“It was a sickening blow; standing next to him, seeing it and hearing it, wasn’t nice,” he said. “He certainly said he wants the guys to go out and play cricket - that will please him the most - and not worry about him.
“It probably brought the team a lot closer together. So even if he’s not with the team, in a strange way he’s still having an influence on the team.
“We’ve got to play some good cricket for Graeme’s 100th Test match and for Bouch.”