Philander will grow and grow

2011-11-22 12:00

Comment: Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town - From amidst the relative wreckage of the Proteas’ failure to win yet another home Test series, have emerged buds of future hope in the form of Vernon Darryl Philander.

The 26-year-old seamer from the Northern Suburbs here was a most deserving recipient of the player-of-the-series award after the shared two-match tussle against Australia, even given the mostly bowler-friendly conditions at both Newlands and then the Wanderers.

His 14 wickets spread across his first two appearances at this level, at a superb average of 13.92 contained no flattering element at all: those who watched the series in its farcically short entirety will recall just how many other times he went narrowly past the outside edge with his ever-disciplined, bustling stumps-to-stumps formula.

Having him open the attack with more senior partner Dale Steyn also turned into an inspired development – Philander is by no means express but he hardly lacks endeavour and aggression and turned into a wonderful foil for the skiddier, nippier Phalaborwa Express with Morne Morkel waiting in the wings to retain pressure as tall-timber first change.

Almost automatically now one of the favourite sporting sons of the Ravensmead community, Philander’s rousing success in his first series simultaneously sends out a message of hope to any similarly consistent performers in SuperSport Series cricket that eventually higher-level reward is, indeed, possible.

The fast-chewing, fast-talking Philander has certainly served a long “apprenticeship”, if you like, in the franchise arena for the Cape Cobras, being a standout wicket-taker for several seasons.

Although it needs to be taken into account that in the current, international-heavy climate, someone like Steyn plays most of his first-class cricket at Test level, it is reasonably illuminating nevertheless that Philander’s first-class average (19.72) is a fair bit better than Steyn’s (24.21).

We have basically received confirmation over the past fortnight, even if a little belatedly, that Philander is a class act and well up to the demands of Test combat.

With a bit of luck, the startling immediacy of his success will not go to his head, and he will also appreciate the need for him to continue to work hard on his batting to ease the ongoing problem of an iffy South African tail – he gave glimpses of his known capability with the blade in the Proteas’ second innings at the Bullring.

He certainly made some experts sit up and take notice, while he did his own level best to earn South Africa what really should have been an overdue home series success against an Australian side less steely overall than any other to have visited our shores since the end of isolation.

“He hits the seam and moves the ball both ways,” SuperSport commentator and former national captain Kepler Wessels said approvingly.

And another canny, revered medium-fast competitor in Test cricket, Shaun Pollock, noted: “Whether with the new ball or old ball he bowls so straight and (makes batsmen) play.

“If he gets the Dukes ball to talk in England next year (when the Proteas have a three-Test series against the present No 1-ranked side – Sport24) he could be really dangerous.”

Pollock made the good additional point that the Cobras star ought to benefit, too, from the looming Test commitments by South Africa looking well-geared to Philander’s strengths.

They are due to play Sri Lanka over three Tests at home next, in conditions that obviously will not be dissimilar to those seen against the Aussies, and including as they do another at Philander’s home ground of Newlands.

He might have added that the Lankans will have had no prior experience of facing him: none of Philander’s 16 appearances for the Proteas across all three formats have yet come against these foes.

Next up is a tour of New Zealand, where the pitches can be low, gripping and slow, but seam movement is a factor, especially when the weather is cool and overcast.
Right now the world seems Philander’s oyster, if he also appreciates that Test cricket won’t always seem this easy ...


  • Kevin - 2011-11-22 12:13

    "With a bit of luck, the startling immediacy of his success will not go to his head" , Rob Houwing you're an idiot. It appears as if you are expecting his success to go to his head. You are also the one who claimed that Steyn would win the game for SA. Clearly not much of a sport24 chief writer.

  • fishycraig - 2011-11-22 12:27

    "Relative wreckage" and "under achieving"? Errr... bowling Australia for 47 crushed them. It is merely their (Oz) bravado celebrating drawing the test series. We humiliated them and squashed a couple of their best player's careers. 47 is up there with 438 as my new favourite numbers.

  • Deon - 2011-11-22 12:33

    People tend to forget 2009, we improved on that series when we lost to them.

  • Sulaiman - 2011-11-22 12:41

    Need to drop Boucher for Vilas, Rudolph for Pietersen (we need a grinder) and Duminy for Prince.

  • AcidBlade - 2011-11-22 13:04

    I just hope they give him enough time out in the middle to properly find his feet in test cricket. Sometimes the selectors tend to drop players after just 3 or 4 matches then they out in the wilderness again. Look what happened to Jacques Rudolph.... Took him 5 years to make a comeback to test cricket.

      Flowingriver - 2011-11-22 13:37

      Rudolf cant play test cricket.....PERIOD ! He is one of the causes that SA lost.

  • Hannetjie - 2011-11-22 13:28

    Well done to Vernon in his 1st test series - I really enjoyed his bowling as he was always giving 100% plus. Just one small thing - can he try and chew less or at least not with an open mouth. It really does not look very good and spoils an otherwise good image.

  • Peter - 2011-11-22 13:48

    Excellent performance but please do not become the benni mcarthy of cricket by growing your waistline

  • Peter - 2011-11-22 13:51

    excellent performance but dont become benni mcarthy of cricket by growing and growing your stomach

  • Rabin - 2011-11-22 14:18

    Unfortunately those in the Cape Town cricket scene know him for his arrogance. This is only going to go further to his head. He is also known for his big mouth evidenced by the fact that he can't close it when chewing in that slovenly manner of his. As one cricketer e-mailed to me, the sun will only go down when Philander sits down. So Rob Houwing is correct. He obviously knows more about Philander than most give him credit for.

      Gordon - 2011-11-22 15:29

      please don't rain on the guys parade, have you achieved anything near what this guy is currently doing? I am sure someone will sit him down and tell him how to behave on the field, because the more you boast, the less people will like you, no matter how good you are. Ask H. Gibbs.

      Jared - 2011-11-22 21:47

      @Rabin so true. I remember thinking "how arrogant is this guy" after his comment in his interview with Mike Haysman at the Newlands test about how he had "obviously" been "dominating" domestic cricket for the last few seasons

  • granville.paulse - 2011-11-22 15:41

    Proved them all wrong so far Vernon. Keep going boytjie!! keep working hard!!!!

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