Few players deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Jacques Kallis, but former England opener Geoffrey Boycott says Ben Stokes – who notched his fourth Test century against India on Thursday - reminds him of the legendary South African.
In his maiden Test innings in India, the aggressive left-hander pounded 128 on the second day of the first Test to become England’s third century maker in their first dig and help them post 537.
It comes after a standout tour of Bangladesh for Stokes, who topped England’s run-scoring and wicket-taking charts in the drawn two-Test series.
"Oh he can play, he's a very fine player," Boycott told the BBC. “I don't like to put him in whatever pantheon of everybody else until he's had a very full career.
"He reminds be a bit of a Jacques Kallis quality. Jacques Kallis was a super batsman.
“I'm not quite sure he'll be as good as that, but he might be a little bit better bowler."
Boycott isn’t the first to marvel at Stokes’ recent development into one of the game’s most-feared Test allrounders.
After his man-of-the-match performance led England to victory over Bangladesh in the first Test in Chittagong last month, coach Trevor Bayliss hailed the rare ability of the fiery allrounder.
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"He could be right up there with some of the all-time best allrounders," Bayliss said last month. "He's young into his career and that's going to be easier to judge the longer he goes.
“Only time will tell.”
Stokes has enjoyed a stellar 2016 to date and is 13 runs and five wickets away from becoming the 10th player in Test history to pass 700 runs and 30 wickets in a calendar year.
It’s a feat Kallis achieved twice in his career (in 2001 and 2002) but Stokes remains some way off replicating the Protea great’s mighty Test record.
Kallis finished his 166-Test career with a batting average of 55.37 and a bowling average 32.65, the greatest positive differential between Test batting and bowling averages (minimum 1000 runs and 50 wickets) since Sir Garfield Sobers, who holds marks of 57.78 with the bat and 34.03 with the ball.
While Stokes is some way off equalling Kallis in that regard, his century in Rajkot saw his Test batting average leapfrog his bowling average (now 35.10 to 33.32), joining Shakib al Hasan, Ravi Ashwin and Mohammad Hafeez as the only current players to hold positive differentials.
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And despite most modern Test outfits finding life increasingly difficult playing on foreign soil, Stokes’ record in away Tests is superb.
The 25-year-old averages a tick under 40 with the bat and a tick over 30 with the ball abroad and his four Test hundreds have all come on different continents.
With England set for another four Tests against the longest format’s top-ranked side in the in their own backyard, Stokes looms as a key factor in the tourists’ chances of repeating their efforts of 2012, when they inflicted India’s only series defeat at home in the past decade.