Abu Dhabi: Kolkata Knight Riders coach Trevor Bayliss has backed legendary all-rounder Jacques Kallis to prove his class in the upcoming edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
The South Africa great retired from Test and first class cricket in December last year, meaning he will go into Wednesday’s opener against defending champions Mumbai Indians without playing a competitive game for almost four months.
But Bayliss says that’s no reason to write off Kallis, who is the only player to score more than 2,000 runs and claim more than 50 wickets in the IPL.
“Jacques has a wonderful record and he is certainly in the category of a great cricketer. If anyone wants to write Jacques off then he can do it at his own peril,” the KKR coach said.
“He is still batting and bowling as well as he ever has and the fact he has not actually played Test match cricket, his body and mental state is good. I would be surprised if he does not do well in this tournament.”
Bayliss said of the squad at his disposal: “We are very happy with the squad we have got. We have a number of different options, different quality options depending on the opposition we are playing and depending on type of wicket we are playing on.
“It is all about getting the combination right and it will be nice if, whatever team we pick, those 11 guys play well on the day.
“This year we have got Robin Utthappa and Manish Pandey, who has done well in the trial game for us. Shakib [Al Hassan] is still there and we are simply stronger in the middle order than we were last year.
“Yousuf Pathan is still there and he is playing well in India this year, so we are hopeful that his form continues. If that happens we have enough depth in the middle order and even down the order we have Vinay Kumar and Piyush Chawla, who can score runs. So we have got a long batting line-up.”
When asked whether it has been tough for him and captain Gautam Gambhir to keep backing an inconsistent player like Yousuf Pathan, Bayliss said: “This is one format of the game where we can stick with someone that may not be scoring runs.
“Sometimes, if a player bats at six or seven, a good score might be 20 off eight or nine balls at the end and that is just as useful as someone who has scored 70 or 80 at the top of the order.
“At the end of the day do not look at the aggregate he has made in the IPL but the role he plays for us as a finisher and on number of occasions he has done well.”
Of skipper Gambir, he added: “Gatuam is a very quiet personality. He can be intense but there are a lot of good players who are that way. He is a captain that leads by example. He does not take any backward step and he will stand up for all his players and that wins the rest of the players’ confidence.”