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Kallis retires from Tests but is still pushing for success in the World Cup

IT was very like Jacques Kallis to announce his retirement from the Test arena on Christmas morning, when all across the world cricket fans are too busy unwrapping their new gloves, pads or sticks of willow to cast a glance at the news.

Almost as extraordinary as his career figures is the relative lack of recognition this burly cricketing steamroller has received. People - rightly, of course - fawn over the relentlessness of Sachin Tendulkar and the composed grace of Brian Lara, but Kallis' comparable record of 13,174 runs at an average of more than 55 has an astonishing asterix scribbled next to it: 292 wickets.

"I truly believe Kallis is the greatest cricketer ever; he's just phenomenal," said Kevin Pietersen a couple of years ago. And why not? The measure of an all-rounder is said to be when the batting average exceeds the bowling average. And there is a difference of 22.59 between Kallis' figures, the largest of any to have played regular Tests. It seems almost unfair on everyone else to judge the South African by all-rounder standards, though, given that his batting average ensconces him comfortably in the top 15 in history, and his number of wickets in the top 30.

There is more to cricket than averages and wickets, of course - like nearly 200 slip catches - but if one were to judge using those terms, what South Africa have had for nearly 20 years, then, is essentially their greatest-ever batsman and their fifth-best bowler wrapped up in the same person. It has allowed a flexibility of selection - extra batsman or bowler - that has contributed heavily to their current side's dominance.

"I'm not sure we will ever see another player of that stature soon," said his coach, Russell Domingo.

The player himself is still looking to the future, even at 39. "I don't see it as goodbye, because I still have a lot of hunger to push South Africa to that World Cup in 2015 - if I am fit and performing."

n Michael Clarke revealed that Australia have a full squad to pick from ahead of today's Fourth Test in Melbourne. Ryan Harris, one quarter of the hosts' fearsome bowling unit, had been struggling with a knee injury but is expected to be available. "It's more about assessing the conditions tomorrow morning before we announce our XI," the captain said.

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