CT Test: Three Proteas hunt landmarks

2018-03-20 19:14
Vernon Philander (Gallo)

Cape Town - Vernon Philander only needs to be "just above average" at Newlands, his favourite venue, to reach another illustrious career landmark in the third Test between South Africa and Australia at Newlands from Thursday.

The bustling seam bowler picks up an average of just under six wickets per Test match at his home ground ... grab seven against the Baggy Greens over the next few days and he will advance to 200 personal scalps in his 53rd appearance for the national side in the format.

Recent history suggests Philander has a good chance of getting to the milestone: he got nine in a player-of-the-match performance in his last Test at Newlands, against India earlier this season, and seven in the one before that: the 2016/17 encounter with Sri Lanka.

Both Tests were comfortably won by the host nation.

In total, Philander has registered 47 wickets from eight Tests at the ground, at an average of 16.34, and his 193 from all 52 Tests have come at 22.19 thus far.

Even if he fails to hit the 200-mark in the Newlands match, he remains well on course to become the fourth fastest South African to the figure, behind Dale Steyn (39 Tests), Allan Donald (42) and Shaun Pollock (49).

The current fourth-fastest South African, Makhaya Ntini, used up 55 Tests to get to his 200, so Philander has both the Newlands and Wanderers Tests against the Aussies to pip him.

Philander was the third fastest bowler of all time - and first beyond the 19th Century - to reach 50 wickets (seven Tests) and 12th fastest (again still premier South African) to 100, in his 19th Test.

Another Proteas player closing in on a milestone is opening batsman Dean Elgar, who needs 61 runs in the Newlands Test to reach 3 000 runs in the format, as he presently stands on 2 939 from 47 Tests at an average of 40.81.

He has played 78 innings, so he will still fall a bit behind leader Graeme Smith and several other compatriots for stealth to the figure - former captain Smith got there in his 63rd innings and 37th Test.

Morne Morkel, of course, now seems significantly less assured of playing at Newlands, considering Kagiso Rabada's successful appeal against his suspension: it is quite possible South Africa will go in with the same attack they fielded in the Port Elizabeth triumph.

But if he does get on the park, the veteran paceman will be bidding to pick up the extra three wickets he needs to reach 300 before his retirement from international duty at series end.

Morkel would be just the fifth South African to reach that tally, behind Pollock (421), Steyn (419), Ntini (390) and Donald (330).

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


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