It appears to me that your decision could be an outcome of your self-assessment of form coupled with the diminishing ability of your ageing body to handle physical stress. I wish everybody who reads this letter, would do so with an unbiased mind to acknowledge my honest feelings and respect towards you.
Hailing from India, which treats cricket and Bollywood as two religions with cult following, I find it really difficult to accept that there is no Indian player who could match the level of contribution you have made to the world cricket. The hype of Indian media over Indian cricketers in addition to pseudo patriotism, makes it all the more difficult to acknowledge that there is someone in the world greater than all our greats.
It is an effortless task for me to provide the statistics of Indian all-time greats and to claim that one has the highest number of runs or centuries, whereas one held the record for the highest number of test wickets for a long time. But, there is no player in this world who could be rated higher than you on the scale of consistency.
After all, it is you who holds the maximum MOM awards in Test cricket despite having played only 165 tests (much lesser than some greats). It is you who has been on the top of ICC rankings for the longest time. Offended fans of legendary batsmen who claim that their favorite is way better than you will surely take a note of the fact that you were rated higher than each and every one of them in batsmen rankings for the longest time, apart from featuring on to top of the all-rounder list for several years. Is there any all rounder amongst the current crop of players who could challenge him as the best all-rounder? None, I would say.
Still, there are fans who believe a few others are best in the world. Little do they realize that cricket is not synonymous with just batting or bowling, but is a multi-faceted game. You have a batting average higher than all the specialist batsmen of your generation in all formats. The fact that only four Indians have reached the 300 wickets figure in Tests is an indication of how much you have contributed in the bowling department with 292 scalps till date.
Your wickets to match ratio might not be very high as you are not a specialist bowler, but your contribution as a fifth bowler who could bowl bouncers at 135kmph even at the age of 38, is humongous. Ironically, the pace sensations of India spit venom at 130kmph.
I am well aware of the fact that you are the only player of your generation in the entire world, who tasted significant success in both batting and bowling. Without a blink of an eye, I believe you are the greatest cricketer considering these two aspects alone. Little did I know that the experts of the game would comment on your contribution as a fielder and would even term you the greatest slip fielder ever.
However, please note that these statistics and testimonials do not make me more crazy about you. This is because I have never been a huge fan of yours. Instead, it is the utter disbelief of someone being so skilled, that has made me look up with a level of admiration and awe that cannot be expressed in words.
Attitude/personality is an intangible dimension that could be added to the previously mentioned dimensions, in order to define a cricketer completely. I could cite examples of all-time greats who ensured that their position was cemented in the cricket team until they reached landmark figures in terms of number of matches they played, centuries they scored, runs made, or wickets taken etc.
In my opinion, the only cricketer who fits into the category of “most selfless soul in world cricket” was Rahul Dravid. I am really happy to know that you have also made it to this category. It is impossible for me to believe that a player could announce retirement when he is so close to taking 300 wickets in Tests.
You don’t need adjectives like God, Lord, Protector because at the end of the day, the world is going to remember you as Jacques Kallis.
My experience of ignoring SA matches whilst not failing to check the scorecard for how much you have scored and how many wickets you have taken, has come to an end. There is not enough zeal left in me to check your statistics and compliment you endlessly. But, there is enough space in my heart to hold that respect I have had for you, forever.
Thank you for your contribution to the world of cricket and wishing you a great life ahead. You are indeed the best there was, the best there is, and the best there ever will be. You are the ultimate show-stopper.