Philander eyes further prey

2012-04-11 10:06
Vernon Philander (Gallo)

Cape Town – When will Vernon Philander’s staggering run of regular five-wicket hauls in first-class cricket finally peter out for a while?

It is a question observers and statisticians are having to ask all the time, as the bustling Cape Cobras seamer hungrily awaits another opportunity from Thursday to rack up a “five-for” or more in an innings.

His county side for the early part of the English season, Somerset, visit Warwickshire’s Edgbaston base then for their second four-day Championship match of the season.

The Birmingham Test venue has seen some proud exploits in the past by great compatriots of Philander’s like Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock, who both had productive stints with the Bears, but in-form Philander will only be trying to cause heartbreak for the home faithful on this occasion.

With all the hype that surrounded Philander’s ascent to 51 wickets in just seven Tests – making him the joint second-fastest ever in match terms to the 50-mark – perhaps people forget how devastating he has been in first-class cricket more broadly over the last six months or so.

Across both the Test and four-day franchise codes, he has now claimed at least a five-wicket haul in one innings in as many as seven of his last 10 outings.

These include seven Tests, two SuperSport Series matches for the Cobras, and his almost inevitably successful, winning debut for Somerset against Middlesex at Taunton just a few days ago.

It was so nearly eight instances in 10: he got a first-innings haul of “only” 4/72 against New Zealand in the first Test in Dunedin. 

In receding order from most recent first-class games, these are his performances (for Proteas unless otherwise noted): 5/43 and 2/38 for Somerset v Middlesex, Taunton; 6/81 and 0/29 v NZ, Wellington; 4/70 and 6/44 v NZ, Hamilton; 4/72 and 1/29 v NZ, Dunedin; 2/60 and 0/14 for Cobras v Lions, Johannesburg; 7/61 and 2/28 for Cobras v Knights, Cape Town; 3/46 and 3/54 v Sri Lanka, Cape Town; 5/53 and 5/49 v Sri Lanka, Centurion; 1/47 and 5/70 v Australia, Johannesburg; 3/63 and 5/15 v Australia, Cape Town.

That adds up to a total of 69 scalps in 10 first-class appearances – almost seven per match.

Commendably sandwiched right in the middle of his golden spell has been a career-best innings first-class haul of 7/61 for the Cobras against the Knights at Newlands, only proving that he has not allowed his excellence to taper off with playing at the next tier down from Tests and before the proverbial three men and a dog.

Thursday’s match at Edgbaston comes on a pitch that ought to suit his trade better than the one where he got match figures of 7/81 against Middlesex: Taunton is generally known as a graveyard for fast bowlers.

So don’t bet against further stellar achievement?

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    vernon philander  |  cricket

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