The legend that is Jacques Kallis grows. The South African is a better batsman on one leg than most test players on two.
Kallis, nobbled by a hamstring strain, hobbled to a fighting 58 against Australia on yesterday's third day of the second test in Adelaide. He has made many, many higher test scores - 85 more, to be precise. He has won matches and saved matches.
His Adelaide knock will likely do neither, though South Africa came back hard yesterday. But wincing and grimacing from a grade one tear in his right hamstring, Kallis proved his rare class often masks his iron will.
His battling spirit paid off for his team as South Africa fought back to have the Australians 111-5 in their second innings - a lead of 273 with five wickets remaining, one of them being super-in-form Australian captain Michael Clarke.
"Obviously if he is 50 per cent, 40 per cent fit, he's the type who is a really tough guy, I think he will bite the bullet and he will do it for us," his team-mate Morne Morkel said on Thursday. Prophetic words.
Cricket laws prevented Kallis from batting higher than No7 in the line-up, having trudged from Adelaide Oval on the first morning of the test with a hamstring strain while bowling.
He had already taken two wickets in three overs when injury arrived.
Kallis sat out day two and an unheralded South African batting collapse delayed his return on day three - the Proteas lost 5-17 and didn't give the team physio enough time to work on Kallis for him to bat at No7.
Instead, Kallis became surely the best batsman ever to fill the No9 slot - and he had to battle without the help of a runner. The Australians, knowing Kallis was in pain and vulnerable, did what any Australian cricket side would do: target the weakness.
Paceman Peter Siddle delivered a bouncer that Kallis ducked, then grabbed his injured hamstring in agony at the movement. So Siddle did what any Australian fast bowler would do: gave him another one. Kallis ducked again, then leaned on his bat for support. Lesser men would have quit there and then.
Not Kallis. He decided ducking was too much pain so from then stood tall to the short stuff, hooking and pulling his way to his 56th test half-century, to go with his 44 tons.
Once dismissed, he received a standing ovation from an Adelaide Oval crowd seemingly realising Australia may only get one more viewing of Kallis, in the second innings.
Earlier, Siddle dismissed Graeme Smith to help Australia make all the running as South Africa collapsed to be 273-7 at lunch.
South Africa resumed yesterday at 217-2 in reply to Australia's first innings of 550 and lost both established batsmen at 233. Offspinner Nathan Lyon removed Jacques Rudolph (29) to trigger a collapse of 5-17. Siddle had Smith (122) caught behind and AB de Villiers (1) out lbw and Ben Hilfenhaus took two wickets with the new ball.
Siddle had troubled Smith with a bouncer when he was on 118 and then the South African skipper's luck ran out on 122.
Rory Kleinveldt took three top order Australian wickets to return the compliment last night.
- AAPBy Steve Larking