Cape Town: Jacques Kallis interrupted team captain Shaun Pollock loudly at a press conference on Wednesday to scotch any rumours his toe injury might rule him out of the start of the World Cup.
“My foot is fine,” Kallis said of the damage done to his toe at South Africa’s practice session on Sunday. “I can’t wait to get out on to the Newlands turf for that first match.”
There was a scare that Kallis wouldn’t be fit to face the West Indies in Cape Town on Sunday when he struck a delivery directly onto his left big toe at nets.
He batted on, but he woke up on Tuesday barely able to walk, with his toe badly swollen and bleeding under the nail bed.
“At least it shows I get my foot to the pitch,” joked Kallis.
National coach Eric Simons also brushed aside suggestions that the man widely regarded as the world’s best allrounder would not be ready for the opening match. “Most cricket injuries are like the one Jacques had. We just needed to limit the swelling and the bruising, and he was back in action again.”
Kallis, 27, the first player since England’s Ian Botham to be ranked in the world’s top 10 both as a batsman and a bowler, is widely regarded as the key to South Africa’s chances of winning the World Cup for the first time and on home soil.
However, he played down his importance and suggested South Africa was able to call on more potential match-winners than any of the other participants in the tournament.
“There are so many guys in our team who can turn a match round very quickly,” he said. “There is never a question in my mind that everything rests on my shoulders.”
Kallis’ career spans 168 ODIs, and he has scored 5,902 runs at an average of 44.04, with eight centuries and a highest score of 113 not out. Add that to his 164 wickets at 29.73 and a best haul of five for 30, and his value becomes clear.
On South Africa’s bouncy pitches, his bowling is perhaps going to make him a handful for the world’s best one-day batsmen.