In the 11 Test matches Geraint Jones has played for England he has been able to watch two of finest batsmen in the world go about their business. The England wicketkeeper made his Test debut against the West Indies in April and Brian Lara, who scored an unbeaten 400, ensured it was a game he will never forget.
In Antigua, Jones spent more than two days watching the West Indian captain regain his world record. Jacques Kallis is yet to go on and post a score of that magnitude, but his resilient and technically correct batting has enabled him to keep England's bowlers at bay for more than 20 hours in the first three Test matches of this series.
"Kallis is a machine," said Jones before flying from Cape Town to Johannesburg with the England team. "He puts a huge amount of application into every ball. Lara has a little bit more of a flashing blade and this gives you a chance. You feel that at some point he may nick one. But Jacques is so solid. You can see how much he loves batting and how highly he values his wicket. He doesn't alter too much, he just carries on and on. He is crucial to the South African team. He holds their team together and shows the others how it should be done."
Kallis' achievements may be revered by the home supporters, but his style of batting has not gone down particularly well with England's travelling army of fans, who have resorted to singing "boring, boring Kallis" while he is at the crease.
"I wouldn't say Kallis is boring," said Jones diplomatically. "But playing against him is a war of attrition because he is so focused on the way he wants to play. At times you think he might up the tempo a bit but he just carries on leaving balls that other players may try and cut or play a big drive at."
But England will need to find a way of removing Kallis cheaply if they are to regain the ascendancy and win this five-Test series. Since missing a Stephen Harmison full toss on nought in Port Elizabeth the right-hander has scored 447 runs at an average of almost 90.
England's bowlers may find the conditions in Johannesburg on Thursday more to their liking. The Wanderers pitch is considered to be the quickest in South Africa and the current wet weather should allow the seamers to get sideways movement. But finding weaknesses in Kallis' game is difficult for Jones, even if he is spending more time by his side than his girlfriend.
"He has shown that he nicks the odd ball," said Jones, "and on the bouncier wickets in Jo'burg that may give us a chance. He is also playing the hook shot pretty well. He has kept most of them down, and a couple of top edges have fallen in the gaps, but he could pick out a couple of fielders in the last two games. But overall he is looking very solid."
While Vaughan, Andrew Flintoff and Marcus Trescothick spent time off on Saturday evening rocking at an Elton John concert, Jones sought solace by swimming in a metal cage and looking for Great White Sharks.
"For most of the trip they were swimming placidly around us," said Jones. "But then, on virtually our last attempt, a big one came up, put its nose in the cage and showed us its teeth. To see a big one like that was quite scary. It was about four metres long and it showed us what a shark is all about."Reuse content