Vernon Philander will hope to repeat his performance from 2012 at Seddon Park, which saw him pick up a career-best 6-44.
Philander took only two wickets during this season’s New Zealand tour and will aim to draw inspiration from his previous performance at the ground.
He will return to Hamilton on Saturday, which saw him take match figures of 10-114 in their nine-wicket win in 2012. This was his sixth match for South Africa, and set the stage for him to become the second-fastest player to 50 Test wickets after seven games.
Five years on, the 31-year-old finds himself in the same surroundings and reminisces about his memorable performance.
‘The last time we played here it was a slow start to the match, if my memory is correct,’ he said in Hamilton on Thursday. ‘The match picked up speed quite dramatically with myself and Dale [Steyn] bowling them out quite cheaply after lunch. These are good memories coming to Seddon Park, it’s a bit different this time around, the square looks a lot different, but we will see what it holds for us.’
He says he is not disappointed by the lack of wickets in this series, but remains satisfied as long as the attack is taking 20 wickets to win Test matches.
‘There is always going to be a bowler who shines in certain Test matches,’ he said. ‘The way Keshav [Maharaj] came out and bowled in Wellington and Dunedin is phenomenal. The wickets are on the slow side here, so it is an adjustment for us as seam bowlers. It’s a good challenge for us and we are looking forward to this one coming up.’
Resilience and ‘throwing the first punch’ have been the ongoing punchlines in Faf du Plessis’ tenure as captain, and Philander believes they will need the same characteristics for the final match of the season against a dejected Black Caps side.
‘The match was evenly poised going into the third innings,’ he explained. ‘The third innings, irrespective of where you play or how the match is poised, you either make it or break it. The way we came out and bowled in the first hour set it up for us. The heat was on them, if you lose a few wickets without getting over the deficit you are in trouble.
‘Test cricket is the best game to be a part of. It can change on any day or session, it takes half a session to change the whole game, that is the beauty of it.’
Philander has played 42 matches (78 innings) and took 161 wickets at an average of 21.90.
Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix