Vernon Philander is targeting a call-up to the Proteas side for the back-end of the five-match ODI series against New Zealand.
It’s been 18 months since Philander last played an ODI for the Proteas, but the 31-year-old might well be dragged out of the 50-over wilderness as the side assess their pace options ahead of the Champions Trophy.
Proteas bowling coach Charl Langeveldt hinted at it last week. ‘In English conditions, if it’s overcast, he will make the perfect guy to play,’ he said.
Philander’s ODI stats are impressive. In 30 matches he’s taken 41 wickets and averages 24.04 at an economy rate of just 4.62. With Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn still on the sidelines, Philander could come in handy for a bowling unit bereft of big-match experience.
In his column on Monday, Tom Sizeland suggested Philander as a strong foil to the workload and responsibility that Kagiso Rabada has had to carry recently, and Philander’s response was one of consensus.
‘You need that experience when young bowlers are trying to find their feet,’ he told SACricketmag.com. ‘It’s difficult to carry all of that pressure, so one of me or Dale [Steyn] needs to be there with him [Rabada] to keep the unit calm when the pressure’s up. They’re all fantastic bowlers, but you really need that leader to calm the ship when the waves are getting a bit rocky.’
And it appears that the Proteas do have ODI plans for Philander. The ankle injury that Philander suffered in November 2015 still lingers and it’s kept him out of action for the past three-four weeks, but his flight to out to New Zealand might be coming earlier than expected.
The Test series is a definite, but he said he’s going to play the first two One Day Cup games for the Cobras, which indicates that he might well be joining up with the Proteas for the final two ODIs of the five-match series.
‘It’s all part of the plan,’ Philander said. ‘I’m going to play the first two one dayers for the Cobras before I get on the plane.
‘As far as selection is concerned it’s out of my hands, but obviously you need that control, and it’s something that I bring to the party,’ he continued.
‘You always want to be playing as many formats as possible, but it’s one step at a time. I just want to get back on the park, but I’m happy about getting back into it should a call-up come about.’
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