Jacques Kallis admits to warming to the idea of helping arch enemy England

Jacques Kallis admits he has warmed to the idea of working with the “arch enemy” after England offered him the route back into international coaching that his native South Africa could not.

Just a year ago the Proteas great was in the home dressing room mentoring his countrymen against the English, but that consultancy role came to an end soon – in part due to Cricket South Africa’s commitment to racial transformation.

While CSA does not exclude white appointments to its backroom teams, it is legally bound to the country’s code of affirmative action and, with the likes of Graeme Smith, Mark Boucher and Charl Langeveldt all in high-profile positions, Kallis believes the door was effectively closed on him.

Jacques Kallis (left) shares some tips with England captain Joe Root (right)
Jacques Kallis (left) shares some tips with England captain Joe Root (right)

As the third-highest run-scorer in the history of Test cricket he was never likely to be left on the shelf for long and the ECB were quick to seek out his expertise for this month’s two-match series in Galle.

“I suppose in the beginning it was a little bit strange because England were the arch enemy when we played them,” confessed Kallis, who scored more than 2,000 Test runs and eight centuries against them.

“But I suppose in the world we’re living now guys go and coach other teams and in the T20s around the world guys go and play with other teams, so it’s kind of the norm in the modern world and I really have thoroughly enjoyed it.

  1. Sachin Tendulkar (Ind) - 15,921

  2. Ricky Ponting (Aus) - 13,378

  3. Jacques Kallis (SA) - 13,289

“I wasn’t allowed to be involved with the South African side because Cricket South Africa said there would be no more white consultants.

“There was a rule so it was pretty much taken out of my hands. It’s sad in a way that I can’t help out in South Africa but I’m thoroughly enjoying my time here and my time in the England set-up. I’m certainly going to give them as much of my knowledge and time as I can to move them forward.

“It’s a good bunch of boys with a lot of youngsters who have bright futures ahead of them so it’s nice that I can perhaps help them achieve the goals and dreams they want to achieve.”

Kallis confirmed he had not applied for the recently advertised job of lead batting coach at the ECB – a wider-reaching full-time post – and that he would not be joining the group on its next assignment in India.

For now, then, it is a one-off meeting with an all-time great of the game, whose presence has already drawn enthusiastic responses from the likes of captain Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Dan Lawrence.

The sense of appreciation appears to be mutual, with Kallis taken by what he has seen in the camp to date – particularly the more attacking mindset than some of the teams he encountered.

“The way England used to play was a sort of old-style of batting and I think in the last few years, brought about by T20 and one-day cricket, England have taken to being a lot more aggressive in the Test arena. I think that’s exciting times.

“They’ve certainly got stroke-players and the talent to play that way but you still need to get that combination right of having players who can bat time. I think there’s a nice mix in this set-up where they’ve got the balance right in order to play some good entertaining aggressive Test cricket.

“I have been impressed about the guys have knowledge of the game and how they go about their game. They are very talented players who train very well. A few little points from me have hopefully helped them but it is a talented bunch of guys and a lot of them are very good about having game plans.

“They’re hungry to succeed. They are going to make mistakes along the way but that’s OK, that’s how you learn and grow. There’s a lot of youngsters here that are going to score a lot of Test runs for England.”