The Sport Matrix: Thursday 26 December 2013


‘Best ever’ Kallis quits Test format

Jacques Kallis will retire from Test cricket after this week’s second match against India, ending the career of one of the game’s great all-rounders and South Africa’s most significant player of the modern era – possibly ever.

Kallis is the fourth highest run-scorer in Tests and has also taken 292 wickets in 165 matches in his 18-year career, an astoundingly good return for someone who was a world-class batsman and yet so often had to share those responsibilities with crucial spells of bowling.

He will remain available for one-day internationals, he said yesterday, and repeated his desire to play at the 2015 World Cup as his swansong.

“It’s been an honour and a privilege to have been part of the South African Test team since making my debut 18 years ago,” Kallis said in a statement on the eve of the second and final Test against India in Durban. “I have enjoyed every moment out in the middle but I just feel that the time is right.”

It has turned out to be an emotional 12 months for Test cricket as the retirement of South Africa’s indefatigable warhorse follows those of Australia’s Ricky Ponting and India’s Sachin Tendulkar.

Ponting bowed out late last year while India was plunged into deep depression when Tendulkar walked into the sunset amid much hype and fanfare in Mumbai last month. Despite Kallis’s stature in world cricket, emotions are unlikely to reach such levels when he walks out today for one last time in Test whites at Durban.

Tendulkar commanded idolatry while Ponting evoked awe but Kallis, despite his mind-boggling numbers, always managed to slip under the radar when it came to adulation. MORE

Murray to make return from injury

After three months off the court following back surgery, Andy Murray will return to action in an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi this afternoon. The 26-year-old Scot faces Jo-Wilfried Tsonga hoping to show he is on the way to recovering full fitness in time for the Australian Open. which starts in less than three weeks’ time. MORE

“We sold Elvis and bought the Beatles”

So said Erik Thorstvedt after his former club Tottenham replaced Gareth Bale with £100m worth of talent. Phil Shaw takes a look back at the other embarrassing and downright bizarre quotes from the great and good on another memorable year on the football field.

Clarets seek to hold on to top spot

Burnley travel to Middlesbrough this afternoon seeking to retain their one-point advantage at the top of the Championship. Second-place QPR, a point further back, face a tricky trip to Nottingham Forest, while Leicester host play-off chasing Reading. Derby visit Huddersfield.

Conditions could give Long Run edge

The anticipated wet conditions in today’s King George VI Chase at Kempton could give the advantage to Long Run ahead of Cue Card. The 2010 winner has the required stamina for a race that usually brings out the best in him. MORE

England captain aims to win Ashes

Charlotte Edwards is an England cricket captain who can still retain the Ashes. Her women’s team take on Australia next month using the same points system in place when England won in the summer. “I really liked it,” she said. “Every game had something on it.”  MORE

Pellegrini: More to Reds than Suarez

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has insisted that there is more to Liverpool than Luis Suarez as his side become the latest to attempt to combat the threat of the Uruguayan this evening. “He is in a very good moment,” the Chilean said of the 19-goal forward. “He has always been a very good striker. But Liverpool is not only Suarez. They are a very good team, it will be a tough game and we hope we can continue winning at home. We are not playing thinking of Suarez. We are playing thinking we must repeat what we are doing at home.”