Former Proteas batsman Ashwell Prince believes Vernon Philander will be a force to be reckoned with during the Test series against England.
Philander was regarded as somewhat of a ‘late bloomer’. His international debut was seven and a half years removed from his first-class debut.
When he did eventually play his first match against Australia in November 2011, his impact was immediate. He surpassed all expectations for a debutant, by claiming figures of 5-15 in Australia’s second innings as the Aussies were skittled for 47.
Since then his rise has been meteoric. He became the fastest South African to reach both 50 and 100 Test wickets.
In an interview with SA Cricket Magazine, Prince expressed the view that Philander’s partnership with 22-year-old Kagiso Rabada could play a pivotal role in the England series.
‘Vernon Philander is a world-class player, one of the best in the world. He has one of the best records in the world.
‘Expect him to have an impact on the series, but there are a lot of other good players in the team. Kagiso Rabada is a key bowler in that lineup as well. In terms of the bowling lineup, the two of them will be key,’ Prince said.
When asked which attributes make Philander one of the world’s best, Prince cited his skill and strength of mind.
‘At his fastest he only bowls 132 km/h, which is very modest at any level. But pace is not his thing, Vernon is the most skillful bowler in South Africa,’ Prince remarked.
On his strength of mind, Prince had this to say: ‘Vernon has had to overcome more than most to achieve what he’s achieved, even people from his own country saying he can only perform on certain kinds of pitches, and he has proved everybody wrong,’ he added.
The medium-pacer has been plying his trade in England since the conclusion of the New Zealand Test series. He has had a decent season thus far in the County Championship for Sussex, collecting 16 wickets in five matches at an average of 26.81.
Philander will be looking to build on the success he enjoyed against England in 2012 where he took 12 wickets in three matches, including a five-wicket haul at Lord’s. Perhaps he’ll make it on to the famous honours board for a second time, this time with a ten-wicket haul alongside his name?
‘It is quite a big thing for opposition players to get their name on the honours board. Players are really motivated when they play England away,’ Prince said.
Philander has 161 wickets to his name in 43 matches, which include a remarkable 11 five-fors and a pair of ten-wicket hauls.
Philander reached 500 first-class wickets during the first innings of Sussex’s County Championship match against Worcestershire in early June.