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Even though the 2005 ICC Award for ‘Player of the Year’ was shared by Andrew Flintoff and Jacques Kallis, it wasn’t till 2008 when they squared off against each other in England.

During those three years (2005-2008), Flintoff and Kallis were the two highest impact all-rounders in world cricket.

Flintoff had an Overall Impact of 4.66 from 30 Tests. Tellingly, he had a failure rate of just 7% – making him the most consistent player in the time span and had registered two series-defining performances ( SD ). He was England’s highest impact player by a country mile in these three years.

Kallis, meanwhile, had an Overall Impact of 3.88 from 43 Tests in the period. Unsurprisingly, he was South Africa’s highest impact player, and their most consistent in the time frame. Also to his credit were two SD performances.

Their long awaited duel had an anti-climactic start as Flintoff missed the first Test of the 2008 Basil D’Oliveira Trophy at Lord’s. The match ended in a draw.

They had a brief go at each other in the second in Leeds which South Africa won by ten wickets.

They were finally in the heat of battle as the series moved to the third Test match in Birmingham, starting 30th July 2008.

A passing shower had added spice to a Day 2 pitch at Edgbaston. England were bowled out for 231. The Proteas survived some tense moments of their own as Kallis held down the fort with an imperious half-century (64) and guided the innings to within a whisker of gaining the lead.

With the score at 216 for 4 after 66 overs, Flintoff – spurred on by the boisterous, late afternoon crowd and, possibly, the ghost of his own heroics from the 2005 Ashes Test  -at this very venue – proceeded to bowl 10 balls at Kallis in a hostile spell that held audiences rapt at attention. Kallis, while scoring the lone run, weathered four brutish bouncers, got lucky twice, swung and missed at one before, finally, sheer pace and swing sent his off-stump cartwheeling. Flintoff arched his back in celebration and bellowed.

After South Africa proceeded to get an 83-run lead, they bowled England out for 363, and then successfully chased down the target of 281 with five wickets to spare, thereby securing an unassailable 2-0 lead. Flintoff, in the meanwhile, dismissed Kallis in the fourth innings as well.

4.66 was victorious over 3.88.

In a clash of the world’s highest impact all-rounders at the time, Flintoff scalped six wickets in the Test, all top/middle order, and scored 38 runs, while Kallis snared four wickets (two top/middle order) and scored 69 runs.

Flintoff maintained his supremacy and had a 41% higher impact in the match than his South African counterpart. He would also finish the series as the higher impact player of the two by 28% (interestingly, both failed with the bat).

Of course, Kallis’ laugh had greater body, as his team historically won the series.

Their careers from hereon, however, took different directions.

It became 2.06 and 3.57.

Flintoff wouldn’t record another SD performance, leave alone reprise heroics from the 2005 Ashes series. In fact, he would go on to play just nine more Tests and retire the very next year, after injuries took their toll. He remains England’s ninth-highest impact player of all time.

Kallis, in sharp contrast, would play another 43 Test matches over five years, delivering three more SD performances along the way. As of today, he remains South Africa’s third-highest impact player of all time.

Kallis ultimately finished with eight SDs to Flintoff’s two, and a 17% higher Career Impact as well.

 

 

Karthik Swaminathan
Art- Gokul Chakravarthy

 NOTE: Impact Index has undergone an upgradation in November 2015, and though 95% of its findings remain the same, there have been some minor shifts. This piece was updated post that, and is up-to-date as of August 2016.