Vernon Philander has been spending time in the gymnasium in an attempt to add five to seven km/h to the speed gun readings.
The Cape Cobras seamer has added muscle and strength to his physique and wants to help South Africa’s Test team extend its unbeaten streak away from home against India.
The Proteas Test team have been unbeaten in their last 14 away series since losing in Sri Lanka in 2006. This is the second-longest away sequence without a series defeat. The West Indian team remained unbeaten in 17 test-series away from home between 1980 and 1995.
Since 2006, South Africa boast series wins in Pakistan, England (twice), Australia (twice), Pakistan, New Zealand, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the West Indies.
‘We have the will power to adapt quickly and effectively, embracing the change of culture and identifying what we need to alter,’ Philander said about South Africa’s proud record.
‘Our batsmen have also been splendid against spin,’ he said.
The 30-year old seam bowler, who has captured 123 wickets in 41 Tests for South Africa and his world-class partnership with Dale Steyn and Morné Morkel has been one of the standout-features of South Africa’s success in the past three years.
Yet Philander has identified his speed (or lack thereof) as an area that requires some change. He said he has worked on his upper-body strength, core strength and overall fitness in order to add five to seven km/h, and doesn’t rule out the possibility of reaching 140 km/h on occasions.
‘I identified that area since coming back from the county series. I want that extra yard of pace.’
Philander says that speed could be a bonus with the older ball, especially if one generates reverse swing on the subcontinent wickets.
That search for more speed won’t deter from his focus of being a classical line-and-length practitioner whose greatest success has come through his excellent probing and ability to surprise batsmen with late movement into or away from the right-hander.
Asked about the changes required to operate successfully in India, Philander said: ‘Your mode of dismissal changes. You might employ more fielders in front of the wicket, like short extra cover or short midwicket. You also have to bowl slightly straighter than in England, Australia or South Africa.’
‘I think we have a very good chance of winning in India. The test team is a settled unit and experienced, with the exception of one or two new faces. This squad has so much confidence in winning away from home.’