South Africa in New Zealand 2011-12 March 12, 2012

Philander prepares for tougher examination

26

More than Newlands, the Wanderers or SuperSport Park, the pitch at the University Oval in Dunedin is the surface Vernon Philander should remember best. It is the only one on which he has not taken a five-wicket haul in an innings and, by implication, has provided him with his biggest challenge so far.

Philander is in the fledgling stages of a career that looks set to take off with all the glory of an eagle in full flight and he cannot be expected to take a five-for every time he walks on to a cricket field. What he can expect is for things to get tougher after his dream start, and Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor and to a lesser extent Trent Boult, gave him a glimpse of what that might look like.

With New Zealand nine down going into the third morning, Philander was handed the ball, a gesture that could be seen as him being given the opportunity for another five-for. Instead, he dished up five juicy length balls in succession to Boult who responded by planting them over the boundary rope. Perhaps what made it more insulting was that it was another bowler who was giving Philander the treatment.

In the second innings, it was a more intense battle against New Zealand's two set batsmen. Philander was properly tested. Although he still kept his usual line outside the off stump and got occasional movement away from the batsmen, he did not find the edge. He was forced to try different things on an unresponsive pitch, adjust his gameplans and out-think the opposition rather than just outplay them and he admitted it gave him a few more things to ponder.

"Your biggest test is always away from home," Philander said. "I've had the luxury of playing at home in my first few games so it's a bit of a mental test having to come here and perform as well as I have at home."

The New Zealand tour is Philander's first Test series outside South Africa and although he maintained that his line will probably work anywhere in the world, he said his lengths have had to change. "It's a touch slower than what we have back home .So I've got to bowl it slightly shorter than what I would do at home," he said.

The Seddon Park pitch in Hamilton is expected to be similar to the one the teams played on in Dunedin and, if anything, it will be drier and more difficult for the rest of the seamers. The one thing on offer may be movement and if it's there, Philander is convinced he can make it work for him. "If there is movement, I am probably the one bowler that will exploit it," he said. "I always back myself to get something out of the wicket and with the new ball it's a big plus for me [to try and do that]."

His opening partner, Dale Steyn, has not had the same success of late. Steyn took two wickets in the Test but it has become a talking point that he has not had a five-for in an innings where he has bowled with Philander, something that may be tough if Philander keeps taking all the available wickets. While analysts have started to discuss whether Steyn is bowling within himself, Philander does not believe there is anything to be concerned about. "Dale is a wonderful bowler and bowlers always go through patches like that sometimes," he said. "It's going to take one spell to get him back."

Kruger van Wyk said he expected as much from the man he played against in first-class cricket in South Africa at least six years ago, before moving to New Zealand and is enjoying facing him again.

"There are not too many weak links in the South African side. Philander has been a top performer in first-class cricket for as long as I can remember, even when I was back there," he said. "They ask a lot of questions of you as a batter so you have to be on top of your game. But we are up for that challenge, we look forward to playing some good sides and you want to be tested against good players. It will be great to face them again."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Phat-Boy on March 15, 2012, 4:25 GMT

    As of this moment, Dale Steyn has taken 25 wickets at 18.28 in partnership with Vernon Philander.

    I think it is pretty safe to say he's coping okay with Philander's presence alongside him wouldn't you say?

  • on March 14, 2012, 1:09 GMT

    Accuracy is sometimes more important... speed is not everything .. much like with batting, shot execution is more important than the strength in the shot

  • RandyOZ on March 13, 2012, 13:53 GMT

    @Nutcutlet - Australia isn't playing South Africa again this summer.

  • Wefinishthis on March 13, 2012, 10:49 GMT

    As an Aussie supporter, the SA v England series for me is the most mouthwatering contest in a long time. I can't wait to see Steyn and Philander attacking Cook and Trott and then proceeding to watch Broad, Finn, Tremlett, Bresnan, Anderson & Swann trying to work out how to get Amla and the colossus Kallis out.

    For me; Steyn, Philander, Pattinson, Harris, Broad, Finn, Tremlett, P.Kumar and Bracewell are currently the best fast bowlers in the world whilst I see Kallis and Trott as the best two batsmen in the world, with Cook and Amla etc also being exceptional talent. Kallis must surely be one of the all time great batsmen. I think this will be SA's time, they have enough great players to become the no.1 and they should have at least a year or two at the top if not longer. In my mind, they've been the world no.1 for the past 3 years and that was without Philander.

  • highveldhillbilly on March 13, 2012, 5:32 GMT

    Is it just me or does Philander remind any of you of Asif? Medium to medium fast, nothing more, bowls a great line and length, moves the ball about. Ok he looks about 20 kgs heavier and doesn't have that whippy action Asif has/had but I see very similar approaches to bowling.

  • on March 13, 2012, 4:23 GMT

    bowlers like these when come to indian subcontinent r part of there worst series..hahha

  • nittian05 on March 13, 2012, 4:12 GMT

    He is as good as McGrath. He completes their pace attack.The Saffer's pace attack looks really good. They'll beat England..

  • Phat-Boy on March 13, 2012, 3:13 GMT

    Rahulcricket007, I would like to see how many runs any Indian outside Dravid and Tendulkar will make when they enter lively non-Indian tracks.

  • csowmi7 on March 13, 2012, 2:06 GMT

    philander is the deadliest bowler to enter the scene in international cricket. Man every time he enters the field he takes a five for. Even though he doesn't bowl at 140+ he has an excellent line and length which is all that's necessary. Some of the best bowlers have been medium pace. eg Mcgrath and pollock. Also he has less chances of burning out and succumbing to injuries. A Mcgrath in the making.

  • on March 13, 2012, 1:25 GMT

    Quicks like McGrath & Steyn did well in Subcontinent which makes them great.. Philander has to prove himself in the Subcontinent first..

  • Phat-Boy on March 15, 2012, 4:25 GMT

    As of this moment, Dale Steyn has taken 25 wickets at 18.28 in partnership with Vernon Philander.

    I think it is pretty safe to say he's coping okay with Philander's presence alongside him wouldn't you say?

  • on March 14, 2012, 1:09 GMT

    Accuracy is sometimes more important... speed is not everything .. much like with batting, shot execution is more important than the strength in the shot

  • RandyOZ on March 13, 2012, 13:53 GMT

    @Nutcutlet - Australia isn't playing South Africa again this summer.

  • Wefinishthis on March 13, 2012, 10:49 GMT

    As an Aussie supporter, the SA v England series for me is the most mouthwatering contest in a long time. I can't wait to see Steyn and Philander attacking Cook and Trott and then proceeding to watch Broad, Finn, Tremlett, Bresnan, Anderson & Swann trying to work out how to get Amla and the colossus Kallis out.

    For me; Steyn, Philander, Pattinson, Harris, Broad, Finn, Tremlett, P.Kumar and Bracewell are currently the best fast bowlers in the world whilst I see Kallis and Trott as the best two batsmen in the world, with Cook and Amla etc also being exceptional talent. Kallis must surely be one of the all time great batsmen. I think this will be SA's time, they have enough great players to become the no.1 and they should have at least a year or two at the top if not longer. In my mind, they've been the world no.1 for the past 3 years and that was without Philander.

  • highveldhillbilly on March 13, 2012, 5:32 GMT

    Is it just me or does Philander remind any of you of Asif? Medium to medium fast, nothing more, bowls a great line and length, moves the ball about. Ok he looks about 20 kgs heavier and doesn't have that whippy action Asif has/had but I see very similar approaches to bowling.

  • on March 13, 2012, 4:23 GMT

    bowlers like these when come to indian subcontinent r part of there worst series..hahha

  • nittian05 on March 13, 2012, 4:12 GMT

    He is as good as McGrath. He completes their pace attack.The Saffer's pace attack looks really good. They'll beat England..

  • Phat-Boy on March 13, 2012, 3:13 GMT

    Rahulcricket007, I would like to see how many runs any Indian outside Dravid and Tendulkar will make when they enter lively non-Indian tracks.

  • csowmi7 on March 13, 2012, 2:06 GMT

    philander is the deadliest bowler to enter the scene in international cricket. Man every time he enters the field he takes a five for. Even though he doesn't bowl at 140+ he has an excellent line and length which is all that's necessary. Some of the best bowlers have been medium pace. eg Mcgrath and pollock. Also he has less chances of burning out and succumbing to injuries. A Mcgrath in the making.

  • on March 13, 2012, 1:25 GMT

    Quicks like McGrath & Steyn did well in Subcontinent which makes them great.. Philander has to prove himself in the Subcontinent first..

  • cricketlord2011 on March 12, 2012, 22:49 GMT

    Dale Steyn in poor form? Can we trade you Southee for him please?

  • Jimmers on March 12, 2012, 22:33 GMT

    JM_RSA - I think SA needed to win all 3 Tests to go to number one, and the draw ruined that. I don't pretend to know the ins-and-outs of it that well, but I really hope the Eng/SA series this summer is a shootout to be number one. They are probably the two best sides in the world, and even though it's an annoyingly short series I'd like it to have that kind of weight behind it.

  • CaptainPiha on March 12, 2012, 21:04 GMT

    Gee, its not a decent comments board without some Indian arrogance huh? If I am not mistaken, we are talking about Vernon Philander, an unbelievable prospect for the next decade of test cricket. Not since Glen McGrath have we seen a bowler with such a direct line to the fourth stump - except that VP bowls it 10kms faster! As a New Zealander I am mighty jealous. And as a cricket fan, I am FED UP with the Indian effect on the game. Your team is in decline and it will take more than Virat Kholi to keep you going. Where are your bowling stocks? Where is your middle order? The arrogance that comes hand in hand with the IPL paychecks is strangling your game and is beginning to strangle ours too. Perhaps less posturing, more time in the nets aye? P.S Go the Black Caps!

  • BillyCC on March 12, 2012, 20:15 GMT

    @rahulcricket007, no one cares how fast bowlers do in India. It's just not an important gauge or priority.

  • Nadeem1976 on March 12, 2012, 20:01 GMT

    He is new kid and played at home initially , got lots of wickets because of home advantage , now his time to learn opponent home advantage.

    Fast bowling in test matches is not that easy and taking 5 for all the time is just not possible.

    He is very good bowler but got to see him bowling in sub continent and then we can analyze how good he is.

    He will be getting more 5 for because he is going to play in NZ and then in Eng. So lots of wickets are waiting for him.

  • duncanmoo on March 12, 2012, 18:41 GMT

    Funny thing about Steyn is he can bow such blistering spells that he comprehensively beats the bat 5 out of 6 balls, but the batsman is still there at the end of the over. The other bowler then bowls a little slower, line and length and the batsman tries to go after it ... OUT!

  • highveldhillbilly on March 12, 2012, 17:04 GMT

    @rahulcricket007 - more than Ishant Sharma and V Kumar combined

  • JM_RSA on March 12, 2012, 15:51 GMT

    I dont fully understand how the ranking points system works but to my understanding isnt it still possible for SA to finish Ranked 1 on 1 April? If SA win the next 2 tests and Eng lose the test (26-30 March) against SL, would that mean SA would have more points than England?

  • kitten on March 12, 2012, 15:28 GMT

    'If there is movement, I am probably the one bowler that will exploit it,'...could one detect a bit of arrogance there, or maybe that is his way of talking. Make no mistake, Dale Steyn is way and shoulders above this guy, he has performed well all over the world, and is not #1 though fluke. In spite of him not being into his stride yet, he performed creditably, and once he does hit top form, then we will all see what happens. And also Dale has performed brilliantly in India, where very few fast bowlers do well, and that place will be a true test for Philander. I don't for a minute doubt that he has got potential, but it is still early days, and the next two tests agains NZ will test him no doubt. McCullum and Taylor have to some extent got an idea how to play him.

  • Ind_Saffer_1987 on March 12, 2012, 14:18 GMT

    @ rahulcricket007: dude, why do you have so many hangups and negative vibes? He's a bright prospect, but he still has to prove himself in sub-continental conditions. Noone is discounting that fact. But you, you're just a regular ray of sunshine aren't you?

  • Arthaurian on March 12, 2012, 12:20 GMT

    I can tell you all right now, that Dale Steyn is nowhere near prime form. At full tilt, Steyns stock ball is 145km/h outswing, 150km/h bouncers, swinging in, swinging out, rewinding etc... Basically all the attributes that define a complete fast bowler. That is why he's the world number one.

  • rahulcricket007 on March 12, 2012, 12:01 GMT

    I WOULD LIKE TO SEE HOW MANY WKTS PHILANDER WILL TAKE WHEN HE ENTER IN INDIAN DEAD TRACKS .

  • risimati_l on March 12, 2012, 10:53 GMT

    Philander has been a top wicket taker for many seasons in SA domestic cricket so his success at the moment is well deserved, Dale is only going through a patch right now he will be fine atleast we have had Philander performing well for us so it makes no difference to the team performance at the moment hope he finds his rhythm before the england tour

  • class9ryan on March 12, 2012, 10:39 GMT

    Vernon Philander is going 2 rock in England........................................... At swingy conditions in ENGLAND he would be very effective. d English series is going 2 b very interesting for quickies as swing bowlers like Anderson and Philander while fast men like Steyn.Morne,Broad playing. ITS GOING @ B A TOUGH TIME FOR BATSMEN.......................................

  • Nutcutlet on March 12, 2012, 9:16 GMT

    The thought of a series in which the current two best bowling attacks in the world face one another on pitches that will suit both in England this summer is a mouth-watering prospect indeed. It shows the idiocy of the future tours' schedule to realise that this will only be a three test match series. Where's the sense in that?

  • shovwar on March 12, 2012, 8:20 GMT

    Dale is just not in form, which is kinda scary to think...what could happen if he comes back to form!

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  • shovwar on March 12, 2012, 8:20 GMT

    Dale is just not in form, which is kinda scary to think...what could happen if he comes back to form!

  • Nutcutlet on March 12, 2012, 9:16 GMT

    The thought of a series in which the current two best bowling attacks in the world face one another on pitches that will suit both in England this summer is a mouth-watering prospect indeed. It shows the idiocy of the future tours' schedule to realise that this will only be a three test match series. Where's the sense in that?

  • class9ryan on March 12, 2012, 10:39 GMT

    Vernon Philander is going 2 rock in England........................................... At swingy conditions in ENGLAND he would be very effective. d English series is going 2 b very interesting for quickies as swing bowlers like Anderson and Philander while fast men like Steyn.Morne,Broad playing. ITS GOING @ B A TOUGH TIME FOR BATSMEN.......................................

  • risimati_l on March 12, 2012, 10:53 GMT

    Philander has been a top wicket taker for many seasons in SA domestic cricket so his success at the moment is well deserved, Dale is only going through a patch right now he will be fine atleast we have had Philander performing well for us so it makes no difference to the team performance at the moment hope he finds his rhythm before the england tour

  • rahulcricket007 on March 12, 2012, 12:01 GMT

    I WOULD LIKE TO SEE HOW MANY WKTS PHILANDER WILL TAKE WHEN HE ENTER IN INDIAN DEAD TRACKS .

  • Arthaurian on March 12, 2012, 12:20 GMT

    I can tell you all right now, that Dale Steyn is nowhere near prime form. At full tilt, Steyns stock ball is 145km/h outswing, 150km/h bouncers, swinging in, swinging out, rewinding etc... Basically all the attributes that define a complete fast bowler. That is why he's the world number one.

  • Ind_Saffer_1987 on March 12, 2012, 14:18 GMT

    @ rahulcricket007: dude, why do you have so many hangups and negative vibes? He's a bright prospect, but he still has to prove himself in sub-continental conditions. Noone is discounting that fact. But you, you're just a regular ray of sunshine aren't you?

  • kitten on March 12, 2012, 15:28 GMT

    'If there is movement, I am probably the one bowler that will exploit it,'...could one detect a bit of arrogance there, or maybe that is his way of talking. Make no mistake, Dale Steyn is way and shoulders above this guy, he has performed well all over the world, and is not #1 though fluke. In spite of him not being into his stride yet, he performed creditably, and once he does hit top form, then we will all see what happens. And also Dale has performed brilliantly in India, where very few fast bowlers do well, and that place will be a true test for Philander. I don't for a minute doubt that he has got potential, but it is still early days, and the next two tests agains NZ will test him no doubt. McCullum and Taylor have to some extent got an idea how to play him.

  • JM_RSA on March 12, 2012, 15:51 GMT

    I dont fully understand how the ranking points system works but to my understanding isnt it still possible for SA to finish Ranked 1 on 1 April? If SA win the next 2 tests and Eng lose the test (26-30 March) against SL, would that mean SA would have more points than England?

  • highveldhillbilly on March 12, 2012, 17:04 GMT

    @rahulcricket007 - more than Ishant Sharma and V Kumar combined