Having announced his retirement from the Test arena in December, Kallis had continued to make himself available for the Proteas’ one-day international team, his sights set on playing in the World Cup – a tournament in which he has suffered much anguish – early next year.
But a poor time in Sri Lanka this month made him question whether he still had it in him, in his 39th year and 19th season of international cricket, to maintain the high standards required to earn a place in the side.
The runs have not been as prolific in recent times, he was unable to bowl in Sri Lanka due to niggling injuries, and perhaps the intense mental focus needed to excel in international cricket was no longer there either.
The end of a career as amazing as that of Jacques Kallis is always a sad occasion, but the right decision has been made. The World Cup was increasingly looking a bridge too far and the legacy of statistically the greatest all-round record the game has known will remain intact.
The South African team is now well and truly entering the new era with the leading figures of the last decade – Kallis, Graeme Smith, Mark Boucher, Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini – all retired. But the team culture, strength of character and technical excellence that Kallis so hugely contributed to during his 166 Tests and 328 ODIs will live on in the exploits of such world-class successors as Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander.
Kallis might not be there at the MCG on March 29 if South Africa finally lift the World Cup, but the team will no doubt ascribe plenty of the credit to his immense influence that went far beyond the phenomenal number of runs, wickets and catches he provided.