Durban: Jacques Kallis, one of the greatest allrounders of the game, on Monday bid adieu to Test cricket after an illustrious 18-year career in a fairytale script as he hit a century in his swansong match in South Africa's 10-wicket thrashing of India on Monday.
The script for Kallis' Test retirement could not have been better as he ended his career as the third highest run-getter in the longest format of the game, besides also bowing out with a win by his side.
The 38-year-old 'King' Kallis ended his Test career on 13,289 runs from 166 Tests, only behind Sachin Tendulkar (15,921) and Ricky Ponting (13,378) in the all-time list.
His batting average stood at an outstanding 55.37 and has also taken 292 wickets and 200 catches. His 45 tons in Test cricket is only second to Tendulkar's 51.
Kallis will continue to play in the one-day internationals and he has so far scored 11,574 runs from 325 ODI matches and has taken 273 wickets at an average of 31.79.
The burly South African, who made his Test debut against England here in December 1995, acknowledged that the script could not have been better.
"It's been incredible, the way people have come out to support me, the way CSA and my team-mates have made it a special game. I could not have asked for more," Kallis said after South Africa clinched the two-match series against India 1-0 here.
"Tough call [to retire from Tests]. I still had the same butterflies ahead of this game, thanks to MS [Dhoni] and the [Indian] team for the guard of honour, I was glad I didn't face the next ball then," said Kallis who hit 115 in South Africa's first innings. He did not need to bat in the second innings.
After South Africa wrapped up the second Test, Kallis was taken for a lap of honour at Kingsmead Stadium with captain Graeme Smith and Morne Morkel lifting him on their shoulders in front of a small crowd who applauded him by showing placards which read 'Farewell King Kallis', 'Salute the King' and 'Kallis, the Greatest Cricketer of All Time'.
His South African team-mates applauded him with all of them, including him, wearing shirts on the back of which was written 'The only cricketer who has scored more than 10,000 runs and taken more than 200 wickets'. Kallis waved to his fans and toasted a can of beer towards the crowd before himself having a ship.
Kallis took the occasion to thank his parents, family members, his team-mates, coaches, South African Cricket Board and the fans.
"Cricket will be missed but more than that I will miss all those time spent with my team-mates at the changing room, those days in times of victory and defeat.
"I've been fortunate to have had great coaches throughout the career, my friends and family have put up with me being away, will be nice to catch up with them. So many people to thank. Two of the most important people, who aren't there, so 'Mum, Dad I hope I've made you proud'."
Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni paid tribute to Kallis for his exploits on a cricket field.
"Jacques Kallis has been a fantastic cricketer, doesn't talk much. Youngsters would look up to him. Not just the runs he scored or the wickets he took, even the catches he took. He gave South Africa the luxury of playing an extra batsman," Dhoni said.
"A fast bowling allrounder, Kallis has done a great service to South African cricket. He bat at the top order and as a fast bowler, he bowled 140 kmph in his early days though he slowed down to 130s later. The number of catches he took, South Africa have been really fortunate to have him in his side.
Proteas captain Graeme Smith said the team will miss him. "We are going to miss him. Not only a team-mate who has played with me so many matches, he has been a good friend of mine and he will remain so. I am sure he will be the team whenever we need him," Smith said.