South Africa v South African Composite XI, Johannesburg, 1st day February 4, 2014

All-round Philander shines for South Africa


South Africa 300 (Philander 58*, Hendricks 3-52) lead South African Composite XI 24 for 3 (de Kock 21*, Peterson 2-0) by 276 runs

South Africa may end up looking neither to Wayne Parnell nor Ryan McLaren as their all-round solution in the future because Vernon Philander could provide the selectors with an alternative. Philander top-scored with 58 on the first of the three-day tour match in preparation for the upcoming Australia series in which the South African shadow Test team, sans AB de Villiers, experienced top-order struggles.

De Villiers was not included in either XI because he is yet to fully recover from hand surgery, but he was at the Wanderers. He was put through some fielding drills and is expected to be fit for the first Test next week. His absence, nonetheless, was obvious in the batting department as the top order struggled in tricky conditions.

With overcloud and the left-arm angle of Beuran Hendricks, South Africa would have relished the challenge, but not the outcome. Graeme Smith would have been the first man out when he edged McLaren to second slip, but the bowler had overstepped.

The pressure did not ease there though as Hendricks was replaced by fellow southpaw Wayne Parnell. The angle eventually had the better of the top order with the first four wickets all falling to the left-handers. Alviro Petersen played on to his stumps, Smith was caught at backward point and Hashim Amla snaffled behind. The South African XI were 51 for 3 shortly after the first hour was complete, and things looked very shaky.

Faf du Plessis was stationed at No.4, an indication he will bat there in the Tests, and opened his scoring with a couple of crisp drives. Du Plessis and JP Duminy put on the first partnership of substance as their 59-run stand saw them take advantage of an inconsistent Parnell, who despite his pace, was wayward. However, Duminy eventually top-edged to Dean Elgar at third slip when on 36.

Thami Tsolekile, playing in de Villiers place, became the first victim of offspinner Simon Harmer, who found substantial turn throughout the day. Tsolekile was bowled by a delivery that turned into him, to put the South African XI back into a tricky position at 122 for 5.

Robin Peterson scored quick runs, reverse-sweeping Harmer for three boundaries in the same over, including two sixes, but the bowler had the last laugh. Peterson was enjoying his hit out so much, he ended up scooping one straight to Harmer at mid-on to give the tireless McLaren some reward.

Du Plessis also fell to a silly shot, smashing Harmer straight to be caught by the bowler and it was up to the lower order to paper over any concerns that may have grown. Dale Steyn and Philander, who last batted together at this ground in the Test against India, made batting look simple as the clouds cleared and the sun peeped through.

The pair played with relative freedom and punished Parnell and Harmer for anything too full or wide. After Steyn was dismissed, Philander and Rory Kleinveldt put on the highest partnership of the innings. Their 62-run stand was carefree and showed their potential to become lower-order all-rounders in the Test side.

With neither Parnell nor McLaren making themselves a clear candidate for that role, the batting of Philander and Kleinveldt would have been an aspect the selectors have made note of.

The South African XI's bowlers fared better than their batsmen. Philander claimed the first wicket when Reeze Hendricks was out lbw. The Peterson-Harmer romance continued when Harmer was sent in as a nightwatchman. He offered Peterson a return catch in his first over, which he duly pulled off, diving to his right.

Peterson also had Elgar's scalp to his name after the batsman hit a full toss in the air to short mid-wicket, where du Plessis pulled of a stunner. Quinton de Kock too should have walked back on 19, but Morkel put down a simple return catch, as the South African Composite XI ended the day precariously placed at 24 for 3.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on February 5, 2014, 16:45 GMT

    As the ONLY spectator physically present during first session of the Protea/SA XI on Tuesday, I report following; 1} McLaren impressed me with his line and length outside off . He was not spectacular, but would be the ideal bowler to compliment Steyn, Philander and Morkel, doing a holding job. He was unlucky not to get Graeme early, due to overstepping. If the Aussies target him (as they surely will do with the fourth seamer), he will get wickets. His out-fielding was excellent and he caught well. 2) Parnell was the fastest of the seamers, but at times wild and sprayed a lot of deliveries. Strong point left armer! The Aussies will enjoy him especially Warner, Haddin. 3) Beulan Hendricks impressed. Will not let the side down and he bowled full. Conceded only few runs initially. If he plays, Robbie P or Duminy will be left out to balance side. 4) Alviro Petersen looked out of form, but he deserves another chance as he did well against India. Weak link. Perhaps Van Zyl/De Kock?

  • John on February 5, 2014, 14:16 GMT

    @tommy; Elgar was batting at No.6 and not facing the new ball at all.

  • creebo on February 5, 2014, 13:54 GMT

    Stiaan van zyl bats at 3 maybe we should try him with graeme,no way he gona take amlas spot,no spot available in the middle order for him and he is class

  • creebo on February 5, 2014, 13:49 GMT

    Alviro gona be a walking wicket against johnson,left arm seamer getting him out again,but alviro does play the short ball well

  • Thomas on February 5, 2014, 12:50 GMT

    Oh dear...maybe it IS time to consider moving on from Alviro. Out cheaply again, and the sentiments are right, he DOES seem to score big just when he is at risk of being dropped....that's not really good enough to provide the tam with confidence.

    In saying that, I'm not particularly impressed with Elgar in the test team....but then I wasn't when hash first started either ;-)

    Hmm, from my previous team (Smith, Petersen, Hash, faf, AB, De Kock, Duminy, Philly, Steyn Morkel), who would replace Alviro though?!?

    I don't want De Kock to open so early in his career, but purely because I don't want him *damaged*....In saying that, is there a better player of short bowling in South Africa than De Kock or AB?

    Could be the opener we need to take on Mitch Johnson.

    BUT, if he did open, I really would not want Parnell or McLaren at 7...nor would I want Philander. Phillander needs to focus all his energies on being the bowler he is, not be mentally fatigued by batting at 7 responsibilities.

  • Thomas on February 5, 2014, 12:40 GMT

    Having followed the match so far between SA and composite 11, I would suggest the following starting line-up for Oz:

    1. Smith Petersen Amla Faf AB 6. De Kock Duminy Petersen Phillander Steyn Morkel

    If our 3 pacers can't knock them over, then it must be a slow deck or a spinners deck, in which case we need people to mix up the style of bowling and speed of it. We'll have Robby (Best that we have and he provides confidence as a lower order batter, South Africans need that security!) and Duminy with his improving offies.

    If we cant win with that 5 person bowling combo, then I just don't see what better options we have. McLaren, Parnell, Elgar...have not done wonders in the match....Bowing has been fine, but it's the batting at 7!

  • greig on February 5, 2014, 11:34 GMT

    @johnh1976 Agreed. Watching Elgar vs Johnson last time around was one of the most embarrassing pieces of viewing I had to endure. (not as bad as Cullinan vs Warne) But we cant hide him forever, as he has a good FC track record - maybe bat him down at 6 or 7 instead.

    Selectors need to face facts and ask themselves are Parnell and McClaren better all-rounders than Philander. The answer is NO, so they should pick another specialist batter/bowler instead.

  • creebo on February 5, 2014, 10:39 GMT

    Alviro get starts but never kicks on..last time he scored a big 100 was in 2012 against england,i think jp deserves another series,

  • A on February 5, 2014, 10:34 GMT

    Hendricks must play thanks to Vern as he has now proved himself as a very capable #7. A quick accurate leftie will provide additional balance and firepower to an already excellent frontline trio.

  • John on February 5, 2014, 9:20 GMT

    @tommy; I would be concern if Elgar starts at No. 2 against AUS given, that he got a pair in his only test against them and that he was dismissed both times by the inform Johnson.

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