Johannesburg - South Africa's Cricket Player of the Year Vernon Philander said all his hard work over the years had finally paid off.
The right-arm seamer who burst onto the scene in November 2011, taking a five-wicket haul on debut, also walked away with the Test Cricketer of the Year and the CSA Fans' Cricketer of the Year accolades at the annual Cricket SA Awards on Wednesday night in Johannesburg.
“It was a hard season but it paid off and I'm a proud man tonight(Wednesday),” Philander said.
“I've played SuperSport (four-day) cricket for the past four years and was very successful in that format, so it's been a long process which came together nicely for me.
“Hopefully I can continue my good form.”
While many a sceptic may have dismissed his 5-15 against Australia, in that first Test in Cape Town, as beginners luck, or blamed the pitch, the right-arm seamer was soon to prove them wrong.
It took just seven Tests for Philander to reach the 50-wicket milestone, second only in the number of Tests played to Australia's Charles Turner in 1888.
He took another “fifer” in his second Test, also against Australia in Johannesburg, and then bagged his first of two ten-wicket hauls against Sri Lanka, in Pretoria, in his third Test.
Philander has taken 51 wickets in total, at an average of 14.15 from his seven Tests.
“My Test debut at Newlands will always be the most special moment for me,” the 26-year-old said.
“Picking up all those wickets, and especially against such a highly regarded Test team as Australia, was incredible.
“The feeling of knocking them over for 47 will stay with me for a long, long time.”
After spending the last few months playing country cricket for Somerset, Philander hoped the experience would help him in the Proteas' tour to England in July/August.
“The next step is England but I will plan my strategy one game at a time,” Philander said looking ahead to the first Test at the Oval in London on July 19.
“I've been playing county cricket for the last few months so hopefully I can use everything I've learned there and put it into play against England.”