South Africa in Ireland 2007

Philander fills his boots

Vernon Philander is being seen in South African circles as the new Shaun Pollock, and so far he hasn't done too badly in international cricket

Andrew McGlashan

June 27, 2007

Text size: A | A

Vernon Philander: can he be the next great allrounder for South Africa? © Getty Images
Any promising English allrounder knows about the danger of being tagged the new Ian Botham - or, in modern terms, the new Andrew Flintoff. Now Vernon Philander has been handed an equally large billing after his debut haul of 4 for 12, against Ireland at Stormont. He's being seen in South African circles as the new Shaun Pollock.

As Jacques Kallis admitted "they are big boots to fill", but Philander started with a performance that Pollock would have been proud of, even if the standard of opposition - with no disrespect to Ireland - has to be taken into account. He hit a nagging line and length from the outset, at sharp pace, and struck with his ninth ball in international cricket, claiming two scalps in his first spell before returning to mop up the tail.

What was particularly impressive throughout Philander's spells was his accuracy - which is supported by an economy rate of 2.55 in first-class cricket and 4.79 in one-dayers - and he provided a perfect foil for the more attacking Makhaya Ntini and Dale Steyn. His final figures were the second-best by a South African on ODI debut, behind Allan Donald's 5 for 29 against India in 1991-92, and the seventh-best for any country. Kallis said the short tour was an ideal chance for youngsters to take their chance and Philander certainly did. It wasn't the worst birthday present he could have had.

At 22, Philander is one of a crop of players South Africa have their eye on for the next four-year cycle leading towards the 2011 World Cup. Pollock won't be around by then and a replacement needs time to find his feet in one of the side's most challenging roles. As Pollock did when he started in 1995, Philander can bat at No. 8 in either form of the game and is a similarly fierce striker of a cricket ball.

Philander could well look back on his week in the laid-back surroundings of Belfast as the time his career really took off

The Ireland players will have had a feeling of 'if only' as Philander collected his haul. He'd been due to play for them in the Friends Provident Trophy this season before a stress fracture of his shins ruled him out. Everything is certainly in working order now and any chance of Ireland getting him back became slimmer with each wicket.

South Africa have another full international season ahead with series against Pakistan, New Zealand and West Indies for starters following the Twenty20 World Championships in September. As with all teams they realise a larger pool of players is required to consistently compete in such a packed calendar. So rather than creating a selection headache, Philander's performance is what they want from the fringe players. "We have always said we want to have a wide base to choose from," said Kallis, "and to see him come in and perform like that was admirable. He's got a bright future ahead of him."

Philander is certainly not short on confidence, listing one of his nicknames as IVA, after a certain great West Indian cricketer, but says he owes his development to Cabe Cobras team-mates Herschelle Gibbs and Ashwell Prince as well as coach Shukri Conrad. "It is great to have players like that around," he told The Cape Argus before leaving for Ireland. "They share with you what they do in times of great pressure in matches. I used to panic in high-stakes situations, now I can stay calm."

That calmness makes him an ideal candidate for the Twenty20 format where his multi-dimensional skills are well suited to the fast-paced game. His domestic Pro20 record stands up fairly strongly and he has been a key part of the Cape Cobras' one-day success.

Tougher challenges lie ahead for Philander - but a tight spell against Sachin Tendulkar on Tuesday showed he won't be fazed - and he could well look back on his week in the laid-back surroundings of Belfast as the time his career really took off. Pollock's boots will take some filling, but Philander seems keen to try them on for size.

Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer on Cricinfo

RSS Feeds: Andrew McGlashan

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Email Feedback Print
Andrew McGlashanClose
Andrew McGlashan Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.
Related Links

Late highs fail to mask wretched year

2014 in review: Save for the rout of Zimbabwe, 2014 was a year of suspensions and demoralising defeats for Bangladesh

    Enough with the on-field chatter

Ian Chappell: One of these days there's going to be an ugly altercation between players on the field

Walking up the down escalator

2014 in review: Player strikes, defeats against fellow minnows, and mountains of debt for the board marked another grim year for Zimbabwe

    The first Boxing Day classic

Ashley Mallett: Nearly 150 years ago, the MCG saw the start of a much-loved tradition, with a match starring Aboriginal players

Could McCullum win the Nobel Peace Prize?

The Beige Brigade salivate over B Mac's incredible feats and sixes, and the deliciousness that is Hagley Park

News | Features Last 7 days

Watson's merry-go-round decade

In January 2005, Shane Watson made his Test debut. What does he have to show for a decade in the game?

Power to Smithy, trouble for Dhoni

Australia's new captain admirably turned things around for his side in Brisbane, leading in more departments than one

Why punish the West Indies players when the administration is to blame?

As ever, the West Indies board has taken the short-term view and removed supposedly troublesome players instead of recognising its own incompetence

Rudderless Shami proves too costly

Mohammed Shami bowls a few really good balls, but they are interspersed with far too many loose ones, an inconsistency that is unacceptable in Test cricket

Australia's 50-50 lifelines

Three Australia players made half-centuries on day one at the MCG; for each of them, the innings' meant different things

News | Features Last 7 days