South Africa v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Cape Town, 4th day

Smith wants Philander to boost pace

Vernon Philander's rise since his Test debut has been astonishing. His captain, though, feels an extra yard of pace will improve his old-ball spells

Firdose Moonda at Newlands

February 18, 2013

Comments: 142 | Text size: A | A

Vernon Philander got his ninth Test five-for, South Africa v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Cape Town, 2nd day, February 15, 2013
Vernon Philander needs 13 wickets at Centurion to equal George Lohmann's record for the fastest to 100 Test wickets © Getty Images

There is a certain look of disbelief that passes over a Captonian's face if they are told something in their city could improve. Who can blame them? The jewel of Africa seems perfectly polished in every way with a sea as azure as the skies above it and plenty to suit all tastes.

The same incredulity was felt by those in the presence of Graeme Smith when he mentioned after the Newlands Test he believes Vernon Philander could get better. Philander was not named Man of the Match despite his nine wickets because Robin Peterson's 84 was the real difference between the two sides but it would have been a tough decision given Philander's feat.

He claimed his ninth five-wicket haul in just his 15th Test. It was also his fourth at Newlands and took his total tally of Test wickets to 87. His wickets per Test sit at 5.8 (his new-ball partner Dale Steyn's are at 5.1) and his average remains a staggering 16.81, statistically making him the most dangerous bowler on the international circuit. Of all current cricketers, Philander has the lowest average by some distance. Steyn is next with an average of 22.68.

If Philander gets any better, batsmen will stand even less of a chance than they do against South Africa now and Smith warned that is possible he will. "Vernon will be the first to admit that he is still a work in progress," Smith said. "He would like to see his pace up. His skill factor is at a very high level and his seam action is unmatched. He is like the seam version of Saeed Ajmal. But if he can pick up a little bit of pace, his old ball spells will get better. His new ball spells are already so effective and if he can get the old ones to the same level…"

When Philander broke onto the scene in 2007 the main concern was that he as too much of a trundler to cut it. He rarely goes beyond 135 kph although he is a major threat despite that. Philander's danger is in the subtlety. Like Ajmal, batsmen are unsure what the ball is going to do when it comes out of the hand.

Philander's secret is not prodigious swing as he only moves the ball a few centimetres but because he can do it both ways, it creates uncertainty. Most of his wickets result from edges because batsmen are not sure whether to go forward or back to him and they are often found out on the drive.

With the new ball, his seam movement is more pronounced as expected and there were some concerns during this series that South Africa lacked the ability to attack with the old ball. Philander proved that wrong with his second-innings burst that was aided by poor shot selection from the Pakistan middle order. Philander showed he can still make the ball talk later in the match.

"We knew an old ball spell could win us the Test match", Smith said. "When we are able to control the run-rate and then frustrate them, we thought if we could make the old ball work for us, we'd be able to get close to dismissing them and having a chaseable target."

Creating something even where conditions don't suit is what has always been seen as Philander's challenge. So far, he has been able to succeed at home, in England, New Zealand and Australia but the subcontinent remains his biggest test. South Africa's next Test series will be played in such conditions in the United Arab Emirates against Pakistan and it's there that Philander could claim his 100th scalp, unless he manages 13 wickets at Centurion starting Friday.

It also means that Philander will probably not become the fastest to 100 Test wickets because George Lohmann holds the record, having achieved it in 16 matches. SuperSport Park will be Philander's 16th. He is, however, in line to become the fastest South African to the mark.

Had injuries not kept him out of three matches he could have played in, Philander may have had his 100 haul already. Those niggles are another source of concern. Three Tests after making his first appearance, Philander picked up a knee problem that ruled him out of the 2011 Boxing Day Test against Sri Lanka. Marchant de Lange replaced him and became the year's most successful debutant with 7 for 81 but has since had stress fractures that kept him out of action for most of the season.

In November 2012 in Australia, Philander woke up with back spasms on the morning of the Adelaide Test and Rory Kleinveldt replaced him at the 11th hour. It allowed Kleinveldt, who opens the bowling with Philander for their franchise, the Cobras, to redeem himself from a poor first outing in Brisbane and to show his own skills. Kleinveldt also stood in for Philander in Port Elizabeth against New Zealand in January when a hamstring injury ruled Philander out.

Although Philander has recovered from the hamstring problem, it has been described by the team manager Mohammed Moosajee, who is also a medical doctor, as chronic. Philander will not be managed in the same Jacques Kallis is - where his quota of overs in monitored - but his participation domestically is looked at as one way of keeping a handle on the problem. Given Philander's value to the national team, it is not a problem anyone will complain about too much.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by wellrounded87 on (February 21, 2013, 5:58 GMT)

This guy is a phenominal bowler. Love watching him bowl. Seems the only way to be effective against him is survive the new ball which is a lot easier said than done especially in friendly conditions.

As for all the talk of Aus bowlers vs SA bowlers... as an Aussie i think it's pretty clear SA bowlers are the creme of the crop. We have a good attack at the moment with a lot of depth. But in reality our only two bowlers who look like they might be up to the standards of Steyn and Philander are the two most injury prone in Cummins and Pattinson. Starc is good but he's expensive and wayward, much like MJ in his early days. Though i think MJ was much more devastating than Starc has been, see his performance in SA a few years ago for reference.

All in all i think VP is the best pace bowler in the world right now and Steyn is sitting at number 2 with a big gap to third.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (February 20, 2013, 22:50 GMT)

@ jonesy2 claims - with a straight face - that "the worlds best and most sporting surface (is) the gabba." The track that SA played on sounds a bit like a Beatles album - Gabba Road! A dead strip better used for landing cargo planes than playing cricket.

Oz have slid so badly that they won't prepare sporting wickets anymore as they are scared of any effective pace attack. Known as the "Dhoni Defense," it is is breaking down their already fragile bowlers. Oz could not field the same attack in three tests. The only constant was the raging Lyon!

Sad really. Once a cricketing superpower, they are now reduced to an endless rotation of gimpy bowlers, debutant batsmen & the tactically challenged Clarke. After SA retired Ponting, it is little wonder that Hussey threw in the towel. Face it, what cricketer wants to play in a different team every test? It's so bad that the discarded but now retreaded Johnson is their lead bowler, & that makes even Broad look good Ooooh, what a long slide down!

Posted by Greatest_Game on (February 20, 2013, 22:17 GMT)

@ zenboomerang fiercely criticises Firdose Moonda, quoting stats of Philander & Kleinvedt to refute her statements, & then says that "Steyn, Morkel & Kallis all have much worse averages in Oz." Much worse than what he does not say but lets take a look:

In 2008, min 10 wickets: Steyn 18 wickets, ave 26.26, SR 43.7. Siddle,13 wickets, ave 27.38, SR 67.2. Johnson, 17 wickets, ave 25.88, SR 56.3. Steyn - most wickets, best SR, & 0.5 ave more than Johnson. Morkel sucked, 9 @ 42.66.

In 2012: Morkel 14 wickets, ave 28.5, SR 46.7. Steyn, 12 wickets, ave 30.83, SR 54.7. Lyon 12 wickets, ave 40.5, SR 89. Siddle 9 wickets, ave 38, SR 77.8. Only Lyon lasted 3 tests - the other Oz bowlers could not handle it, but in Perth the figs were: Steyn 7/112 ave 16, Philander 4/96 ave 24, Starc 8/209 av 26.125, Johnson 6/164 ave 27.3, & Peterson 6/171 ave 28.5.

Steyn, in Oz, has better averages THAN ANY OZ BOWLER. In 2012, Morkel was the top bowler, Steyn 2nd. I guess that's why SA WON BOTH SERIES.

Posted by barnold on (February 20, 2013, 16:52 GMT)

Interesting that when analyzing fast bowlers people always use their performance on pitches that are not conducive to their skills ( ie sub continent) as a yardstick, instead of looking at their performance on pitches that suit them.

Why dont we apply the same criteria to spinners on pitches that dont support spin. As an example look at these stats at WACA in perth for M Muralitharan (SL) 1995-1995 1 1 54.0 3 224 2 2/224 2/224 112.00 4.14 162.0 0 0

Vernon is a new ball specialist, on a seaming pitch,and, based on his current stats, one of the best of all time. He is part of a high quality attack as well and has been head and shoulders above anyone else in those conditions, how come nobody else achieved those numbers.

Big Verne has the ability destroy a team in a single spell, Ive seen him do it many times. lets appreciate him for what he brings to the table and not try look for the negatives

Posted by ABLcric on (February 20, 2013, 13:30 GMT)

Fast bowling is all about rhythm. Natural rhythm. At the moment, VP is performing extraordinary. Please do not tamper with VP's rhythm.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2013, 8:53 GMT)

All other countries fielders, batsmen and bowlers are better than our's......I'm happy with this as long as we win you guys you can claim whatever you want to to make you feel better. We won in aus x 2. Thats the most enjoyable feeling.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (February 20, 2013, 7:59 GMT)

@ zenboomerang fiercely criticises Firdose Moonda, quoting stats of Philander & Kleinvedt to refute her statements, & then says that "Steyn, Morkel & Kallis all have much worse averages in Oz." Much worse than what is not said, but lets take a look:

In 2008, min 10 wickets: Steyn 18 wickets, ave 26.26, SR 43.7. Siddle,13 wickets, ave 27.38, SR 67.2. Johnson, 17 wickets, ave 25.88, SR 56.3. Steyn - most wickets, best SR, & 0.5 ave more than Johnson. Morkel sucked, 9 @ 42.66.

In 2012: Morkel 14 wickets, ave 28.5, SR 46.7. Steyn, 12 wickets, ave 30.83, SR 54.7. Lyon 12 wickets, ave 40.5, SR 89. Siddle 9 wickets, ave 38, SR 77.8.

Only Lyon lasted 3 tests - the other Oz bowlers broke down, but in Perth the figs were: Steyn 7/112 ave 16, Philander 4/96 ave 24, Starc 8/209 av 26.125, Johnson 6/164 ave 27.3, & Peterson 6/171 ave 28.5.

Steyn, in Oz, has better averages THAN ANY OZ BOWLER. In 2012, Morkel was the top bowler, Steyn 2nd. I guess that's why SA WON BOTH SERIES, & are No. 1

Posted by Greatest_Game on (February 20, 2013, 6:24 GMT)

@ Ozcricketwriter says Lee, Bird & Pattinson's stats beat Steyn's, & Bird's beat Philander's, but then says, "the article should have said "of players who have at least 50 test wickets"

Philander: 15 tests, 87 wickets, ave 16.81. By no. of tests, Philander was 2nd fastest to 50 wickets. CTB Turner, 6 matches, 1888. T Richardson 7 matches, 1896, Philander 7 matches, 2011 - fastest in 120 years, & fastest ever by no. of balls bowled.

Bird, 2 tests, ave 16.18. Pattinson, ave 22.09 & Brett Lee, ave 30.81, both above 16 ave after 3 tests. Philander UNDER 16 ave for his FIRST 8 TESTS.

Lee, 76 tests, 10 "5 fors." Philander, 15 tests, has NINE. Pattinson, 2 after 7 tests, Philander 2 after 2. Bird has 0

Philander, 1st match, 5 for 15, ave 9.75 (Australia 47 all out, lol) & 10 for 102 in his 3rd match. Lee, Pattinson, Bird - no 10 fors.

Steyn. 64 tests, 327 wickets, ave 22.68, 5 fors - 21; 10 fors - 5.

Stats say Lee, Bird & Pattinson are club level compared to Philander & Steyn!

Posted by crashed on (February 19, 2013, 21:50 GMT)

@Swingit Are you sure about SA supporters claiming anything you are saying we are claiming lol only claim i have seen and i do not know who made it and if it is a SA supporter is the claim of Kallis being a great player ... to which i totally agree hope he get his 300 wickets lol To compare any player to any other player is rather silly and a point of perspective for instance and i have mentioned it elseware to compare Allan Donald with steyn even I will have 2 minds since AD came from the franchise i support and DS dont but both great players in THEIR TIME and both - to me - great players... And i assure you Vernon is World Famous in South Africa :) I am sure the world will find out why if they still wonder why ;)

Posted by   on (February 19, 2013, 20:25 GMT)

@Apocalypse_EX, agreed but I still think people like BigBoodha are too harsh on him based on actually ONE poor innings! He was very good in that third test but its no shame to be overshadowed by the world no.1 bowler? Surely? Making the addition of tour stats to justify one's opinion is just laughable! I wonder how other bowlers fare in these 'practice' sessions? Funny how everyone just assumes he'll struggle in the sub-continent even though India also has a 125kph bowler (B Kumar) swinging balls around corners

Posted by Smahuta on (February 19, 2013, 19:09 GMT)

Philly's performance at Newlands this last test proves he will do very well in the sub-continent, much to the dismay of all the sub-continent teams fans and players. We all know that the pitch there was very much like one found in the UAE, AJmal said so himself. Expect the same result there later this year, hard fough contests with SA coming out on top. The only way to blunt Sa's attack is to make totally flat pitches that result in scores of 600 for 2 where it is impossible to bowl teams out no matter how much time you have. Facts are facts, enjoy the cricket!i

Posted by Apocalypse_EX on (February 19, 2013, 16:39 GMT)

@Arun Prasad I think he included the tour match against Australia A. Hmmm...he bowled okay in Australia(road or no road doesnt deny that Australia's pacers looked better the first 2 tests), but bowled a lot of no-balls and in my opinion didnt get his line or length right(too many leg side deliveries etc). He bowled way better in the perth test(Steyn was still the spark though).

Posted by   on (February 19, 2013, 15:08 GMT)

@TheBigBoodha "It took him 5 innings to take a wicket in Australia"??? LOL!!! Are u alright mate??? He only played 2 matches against Oz...and Only bowled 3 inns altogether He was wicket less only in the 1st inns and took wickets in the 2nd inns that he bowled.. get the facts correct...

Posted by   on (February 19, 2013, 13:35 GMT)

The fact that there are so many nay sayers means that Vern 'mcgrath' philander is that good. He is bowling well and winning teams and the supporters are just bitter and now look for something to say to make them feel good. The batsmen know how good vernie are and thats all that counts. Non of you 'EXPERTS' that sit on your behinds whole day and wish your team had a fantastic bowler like him knows what it is to face him. He knows his game and does what is needed to succeed. No greentop stays green for 5 days here. Our batsmen scores plenty of runs on those greentops. We were 280plus for 3 against pakistan on a greentop. The batters from your teams are not good enough.

Posted by Protears on (February 19, 2013, 12:44 GMT)

Philander has every chance of being a success on sub contenental decks, the reason he is a perfect seam up bowler much like Stuart Clarke, Glen McGrath, Lance Klusener, Shaun Pollock all of whom were pretty successful on those decks.

He does swing and seam the new ball both ways but his real asset is seam movement when the ball is older and that accounted for the Pakistan collapse. He also attacks the stumps which is very important on those conditions.

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (February 19, 2013, 9:17 GMT)

Blah, blah, blah, hasnt played in the subcontinent, blah, blah didnt bowl well in australia, blah, blah.... Countries in the subcontinent are at mid table in terms of test rankings, so I questions the achievement in going there these days and taking lots of wickets -just ask England. In Australia, groundsmen there prepared absolute ROADS to nullify vernon and steyn after the pain of losing the 2008 series. Unfortunately for them they slipped up in the last test (perth) by having a pitch that provided an even contest with bat and ball and they got hammered.

Joint equal fastest to 50 wickets in over 100 years !! Within reach of fastest to 100 wickets!!

Yet people still cannot appreciate or acknowedge a good seam bowler who has performed incredibily well in a batsman friendly era and potentially change the history books.

Posted by vrn59 on (February 19, 2013, 9:06 GMT)

Vernon Philander is a fantastic bowler, who has so far responded well to every challenge thrown his way: Tests at home and in NZ, Eng and Aus (where he had only one bad match, btw, despite what many people have written). He cannot be judged based on inability to perform in the subcontinent when he hasn't had the chance to bowl there just yet. Perhaps Smith's suggestion on boosting pace will benefit Philander more in the subcontinent than anywhere else.

Posted by zenboomerang on (February 19, 2013, 8:30 GMT)

@Firdose Moonda :- "he has been able to succeed at home, in England, New Zealand and Australia but the subcontinent remains his biggest test"... Philander has shown himself to be a v.g. bowler - but not in Australia... 2 Test matches - 4 wkts @49.75 with a best BBI of 2/41... That is not the rate of a successful bowler...

@Firdose Moonda :- "It allowed Kleinveldt... to redeem himself from a poor first outing in Brisbane and to show his own skills"... Hmmm... Kleinveldt took 4 wkts @36.5 in Adelaide, which isn't great while his 2 Tests in Oz went @60.75...

Actually Steyn, Morkel & Kallis all have much worse averages in Oz - perhaps you should review your articles before you throw Australia's name around so carelessly...

Posted by Jester01 on (February 19, 2013, 8:27 GMT)

I'm really surprise that so many fans here are whining about "green top". Did anyone of you watch the last test? Vernon is a class act but I must admit he's pace is a concern especially with the old ball though. There's not a test nation who wouldn't want him as their opening bowler - there's even a few (India & Australia) who will have him as their opening batsman as well.

Posted by sean_kelly on (February 19, 2013, 8:25 GMT)

I wonder if the additional pace, or a drop in pace later on in his career, will affect his swing? He seems the perfect bowler right now, so why fix something that isn't broken. I'm not sure additional pace with an old ball that swings and nips off the seem LESS is the way to go.

Posted by Mitty2 on (February 19, 2013, 8:09 GMT)

i think people are missing the motives and reason for smith' statement. Philander, with an incredible start to his test career, bowls at mgcrath pace, and he was pretty successful wasn't he? but this is an attempt to fix SA's only obvious problem; old bowl bowling. Philander is obviously a serious threat with the new ball, as is steyn, but both of them were virtually conquered in aus when the bowl got old. Smith knows this, and as morkel, whilst more than threatening, is sometimes innacurate and expensive, thus with only steyn and vernon left (no real spinner), vernon is called out to increase his pace so the likelihood of wickets increases.

but on another level no one would be naive enough, especially a captain, to tell a successful pacer to change his action just to increase his pace, this has ruined many a fast bowler's career. But smith is captain and fields at slip, he has played 15 test with vernon, i think he'd know if he was putting in the effort or not.

Posted by   on (February 19, 2013, 7:36 GMT)

he is a skill full bowler, i dont buy this theory from few people that it was friendly pitches / conditions. you have to bowl well even to get wickets on friendly wickets. Leave touring sides out, even SA has had great bowlers but no body got this many on friendly wickets . even steyn is a great bowler but didnt get this many so early. so its the skills not conditions. Only thing which will happen when he will play in asia is that he may take long to take wickets but he will take for sure thats how it is. i dont think there is any point behind this debate.

For speed, on SA/AUS/ENG and similar pitches i dont think he needs more speed. But may be in asia he needs a little more & may be.

Posted by yogi.s on (February 19, 2013, 7:32 GMT)

It is so nice to see the captain of the no 1 team pushing his team and teammates towards higher levels of performance even though there is not much competition around. Wish my country's cricketers (india) had the same attitude. Anyways, go proteas!!!

Posted by viking_legend on (February 19, 2013, 7:13 GMT)

Really surprised at all the comments. If VP played on pitches that were so helpful then why didnt other bowlers take 5 fers and 10 fers as regularly as he has? In the last test VP bowled a few overs before the ball was changed and he had the Pak batsman bamboozled. "Maybe" Smith has a point that VP needs to increase his pace in sub continent conditions but if i'm not mistaken the Cape Town pitch was very similar to those conditions. So why change whats working?

On a different note I see some fans of other countries again making comparisons to the great WI and Aus team. Live in the present! Your status of being greats will always live on but currently the only thing you're relatively good at is being cry babies.

Posted by PadMarley on (February 19, 2013, 6:33 GMT)

Smith!! Dont be so greedy man!! you gonna spoil is rhythm by asking for more pace. You have a gem of a performer in VP, who is having a dream of an early phase of a career, and you want more?? Let him keep his pace and learn the tricks on how to swing on dead wickets!! Get few lessons from good old masters of the art like Chaminda Vass, Kapil Dev and Aqib Javed... Speed wont make you shine in South Asian wickets... you will need to learn how to move an old ball on dust!!!!

Posted by OldFashionedFan on (February 19, 2013, 6:10 GMT)

This debate is getting a bit ridiculous. Sure, Philander is only 15 tests in to his international career but his stats so far are truly remarkable. After all, he is not the first bowler to ever begin a career on seamer friendly wickets. Also, he hasn't exactly been the only one exposed to these wickets (ie.the English attack-considered at least on par with SA prior to the England tour). One cannot argue that the true test of his abilities will come when he plays on the sub-continent, but for now lets just appreciate his performances to date.

With regard to the 'great' SA argument-This current SA team is great. Are they as great as the WI or AUS teams at their peak? No. I don't think there will ever again be a team who can beat the WI records, but comparing the two is as futile as comparing any players, from any sport, who played in different eras. The game,and professional sport environment is different. Right now,SA are easily the best side in the world so lets just see what happens.

Posted by   on (February 19, 2013, 6:00 GMT)

Incredible achievement.... Hats off........

Posted by Starboomber on (February 19, 2013, 5:46 GMT)

Whatever the haters say doesn't matter. Why their good seam bowlers(opposition) are not lucky in the seamer friendly conditions. The so called better bowlers didn't help their teams win a series at home. At least Vern is doing it for his country in the conditions he is used to. Says a lot about the opposition bowlers at their home conditions...

Posted by anuajm on (February 19, 2013, 5:44 GMT)

Thank you Tim Greening. The question is, how many bowlers have demonstrated such kind of phenomenal and consistent performance even in conditions highly favorable to them!! Let's give this guy his due and celebrate his achievements. Go VP go!!

Posted by Phat-Boy on (February 19, 2013, 5:26 GMT)

@simoc. That's exactly my point - number 1 is number 1, and I don't understand why everyone has to see a team as dominant as the West Indies or Australia were to be convinced that a team is the best.

There is ALWAYS a best team, no matter how they stack up to past sides. At the moment this SA team is the best by a mile, and I don't get how anyone could deny that.

Posted by SherjilIslam on (February 19, 2013, 5:15 GMT)

@Alexk400 : Excellent observation mate.That is a very valid point regarding the Philander's wicket taking spree.I don't know how long he continues taking heaps of wickets but as of now, he is a bowling in such a wonderful line and length, that wickets come like freebies.

Posted by Marktc on (February 19, 2013, 5:14 GMT)

The old saying 'when something isn't broken, don't try to fix it' applies here...he is taking wickets and is affective at this pace....surely messing with his pace may just ruin his effectiveness and control. Besides, we don't need to 150 plus bowlers. Variation is the key to the SA success, so don't mess with it.

Secondly, I agree with Phat-Boy....why can we not just give SA their due at being the worlds best by some way. They deserve their position and their record is something to be admired.

Posted by Selfishkar on (February 19, 2013, 4:52 GMT)

Ishant Sharma, the spearhead of Indian bowling has almost played three times as many tests as Philander with average of 38 which is approaching thrice of Philander.

Posted by Sugath on (February 19, 2013, 4:46 GMT)

South Africa has in the recent past produced a cluster of great fast bowlers, Donald, Pollock, Fanny De Villers, Steyn and now Philander. But for Philander the ultimate test will be South Asia, be it in Chennai, Delhi or Galle or Colombo. If he achieves same greatness in South Asia then he will be truly great. Pollock and Donald did achieve some success in South Asia. Also one must remember against such a pace attack Sangakkara and Mahela made a world record partnership and Proteas ultimately lost by innings. So far the harvest has been at home and in Aussie land. South Asia will reveal whether he has it for all climes, all whether and for all places

Posted by Simoc on (February 19, 2013, 4:40 GMT)

Bowl faster, get a bigger edge, watch the ball fly over slips to the boundary. Not much point really. His current efforts put him right at the front end. When I saw him he looked bulkier than your normal quick. Still fast bowling is about rythym & movement and he's got it. Don't know what you're raving on about Phat -boy. Number 1 is number 1 and you own it. Peoples opinions are irrelevant.

Posted by BradmanBestEver on (February 19, 2013, 4:34 GMT)

If it ain't broke don't fix it - Smith should focus on things that are not working well - like improving the SA spin bowling

Posted by Phat-Boy on (February 19, 2013, 4:21 GMT)

@AlexK440. I'm guessing you haven't actually watched him bowl at all judging by those nonsense ramblings. Steyn goes for 3.3 runs per over, Morkel 3.26, Peterson 3.23, Kallis 2.82, and Philander 2.80

So on what evidence could you possibly suggest that they are going after him more than the others? Oh and hey - every team in history has had players they try and tee off against. How many of them average under 17 per wicket? Does he bowl with Steyn and Morkel at domestic level where he averages 18? No. Watch a highlight reel of his wickets and tell me how many he has taken thanks to batsmen going after him. What a ridiculous post.

Posted by Sulli001 on (February 19, 2013, 4:04 GMT)

Watching Philander bowl is like watching Sir Richard Hadlee in his prime, outstanding fast/meduim bowling. I dont think he needs to pick his pace up at all. With an avg of 16.8 pace is not a problem, I would just continue to improve accuracy and the recrd will continue to fall.

Its great bowling to watch

Posted by Alexk400 on (February 19, 2013, 3:28 GMT)

I still believe he is lucky. He is grabbing the wicket because no one wants to hit steyn and morkel. So all try to hit philander and his line helps him. He is not the guy to depend on pressure though. But he is in cloud 9 because he is taking more wicket than steyn

Posted by SyBorgg71 on (February 19, 2013, 3:11 GMT)

@AK47_pk...or another way to look at it. SA have the top 2 run getters. Top 3 out of 5. The real devistating one is the top 8 out of 12. But keep your blinkers on mate, it certainly amused me reading your comments :)

Posted by Phat-Boy on (February 19, 2013, 3:02 GMT)

@bertram Wijit Sinniah Wow, you've picked out two selective stats on Steyn that are BETTER than the career figures of James Anderson, commonly considered the next-best fast bowler in the world. Doesn't that tell you something? The guy is a freak, and walks into the best 11 I've ever seen. Marshall, Warne, Steyn, Ambrose.

@nauman - yes, I'd love to comment on his out of South Africa figures. 37 wickets at 21. Next question?

Posted by Phat-Boy on (February 19, 2013, 2:49 GMT)

What a joke.

Geez South African fans and players must get sick of this rubbish. Since when does a team have to be as dominant as the West Indies or Australia to be the world's best? Pretty sure no heavyweight champion has been as dominant as Rocky Marciano, but there have still been dozens considered the world's best at a given time. Any notion that a current team is as good as South Africa is a joke. Even Australia at their peak never went 7 years without losing a series overseas. As for people saying Steyn still has a way to go to reach the Windies' greats levels, explain to me why, despite bowling in the most batting-friendly era in history, his numbers are better (strike rate, wickets per match) than all of them? Good bowling is good bowling, no matter what sort of spin you want to put on it.

Posted by pulkit10 on (February 19, 2013, 2:38 GMT)

I think this has more to do with Philander himself wanting to crank the pace up more than the team management. He's doing a mighty fine job but he's not perfect. His subtle changes in the movement of the ball will only benefit from an increase in pace. That's not to say that he'll be pushing the Indian method of choosing either/Or one of the two - he's just talking about increasing that pace up by a fraction to trouble batsmen even more and I agree. This is why Steyn is so effective - when you have a man filled with rage running towards you and hurling a moving ball at 150ish, it is hard to stay focused. Now granted, Philander isn't going for the same thing or trying to emulate Steyn but you get the point.

Posted by Albert_cambell on (February 19, 2013, 2:31 GMT)

Smith has gone crazy now. If he increases the pace he will lose his swinging ability. He is doing well now. Why changing his bowling style and spoiling his form and rythem. We have a dominant pace attack now. Just dont spoil it Mr.smith. Try to find some good spinners. That will help us keep our dominance in the subcontinent. we have a very poor record in countries like SL, Ind, Pak/UAE. We havent won a test series in SL and Ind for a long time.

Posted by   on (February 19, 2013, 2:00 GMT)

anuajm, really like your comment.

Posted by Soso_killer on (February 19, 2013, 0:17 GMT)

@ohhMattyMatty is that the same Jimmy Anderson that was comprehensively outbowled by big Vern? Vernon "struggled" in England by taking 12 wickets at an average of 23, while Jimmy had a superb series with an average of 40+. Nice try!! There is not a single bowler in the world who would walk into this attack, bar 2 spiners i.e. Ajmal or Swann

Posted by   on (February 19, 2013, 0:10 GMT)

He's a good un. A five Test series in Oz, or India or at St Johns may reduce him to mere normality - as it has done to other class bowlers - but he's a master of the seaming pitch. Kudos to him

Posted by JamesTHEwalldravid on (February 18, 2013, 23:41 GMT)

@maddy20 are you kidding? "While it is true that fast bowlers rely on pace to pick wickets, there are some exceptions. Wasim Akram, McGrath etc., never had a lot of pace, but were devastating with both the new and old ball, specially Akram, who picked about half of his wickets in the slow wickets of the sub-continent." Wasim Akram was amongst the fastest bowlers in the world in the late 80's and even in the mid 90's. Even in the late 90's he was around 135+ regularly. I'll give you an example from espncricinfo where Alec Stewart talks about him. Here is the link:

Now please explain your strange post? Also Mcgrath was actually pretty quick in the first phase of his carrer, but he lacked the skill and consistency he would later become famous for. He was in the late 130's early 140's.

Posted by dmudge on (February 18, 2013, 23:26 GMT)

Hmmm, not sure how one can claim he did well in Australia. 4/199 in the series. He rarely looked threatening even to Australia's inexperienced line-up.

Posted by   on (February 18, 2013, 23:09 GMT)

No doubt Philander would be an even better bowler if he was sightly quicker. No doubt George Lohmann, Sydney Barnes and Glenn McGrath would have been too. And just think how good Warne might have been if only he'd had a better disguised googly. Maybe Philander should be allowed to play to his own strengths and develop the method that suits him best.

Posted by pauln2 on (February 18, 2013, 22:56 GMT)

I think most have missed the most important numbers in the whole article. Philander and Steyn, to date, average 11 wickets per test combined for around 220 runs. That's one innings done and dusted for 200 - hardly a winning score - and the other South African bowlers, who include Kallis and Morkel, therefore have to take nine wickets at reasonable prices for the Proteas to win yet another test; the strong batting almost always provides those runs and plenty more. There will be the odd match (eg Brisbane) where this doesn't happen, but it's rare. It doesn't really matter how the wickets are split; the fact remains they are a deadly combination on most occasions. If you asked most test batsmen whether Philander is the real deal, I think you'd get only one answer.

Posted by redneck on (February 18, 2013, 22:56 GMT)

he looks great when playing at home, his aus tour was average. cant dispute he is one of the best going around when conditions suit but he also had the fortune of coming into the south african line up when south africa had tours of new zealand and england (both seamer friendly destinations). i still belive he pulled out of the adelaide test after he saw the pitch, he would have been taken to the cleaners if he had played that match!!!! will judge him more when he has to play in asia. steyn has shown he is just as dangerous on flat dusty wickets as he is on a cape town green tops, phillander still has to prove that he can do this!

Posted by mahjut on (February 18, 2013, 22:55 GMT)

The mark of a great team is how other fans react to the label; when Waugh's Oz ruled the roost the reaction to them was similar to some of the reactions to SA on this thread 8D

Ain't nothing controversial about Firdose's article (Vern's figure's are "astonishing"), yet people point to warm up tour matches in Oz in an attempt to belittle Vern - surely that's "pathetic". one bad Test! Mcgrath's early career returned figures of 101/0 vs Eng in Brisbane. ce la vie - these things happen

Vern just took 9 wkts (@11 ave) in a match where the PK seamers took 5 between them and a total of 16 wkts fell to spin. Those figures (+ the fact one spinner alone took 10) must - even to the hapless naysayers - suggest that the Newlands wicket was not a 'typical' Philander wicket.

I think he will have to work hard in the sub-continent at his pace but he's doing everything right so far (despite one bad Test). For the record - I do not care if SA are seen as great, imo they aren't, but they're daawn good

Posted by   on (February 18, 2013, 22:07 GMT)

Just an average bowler that has had some early success. Struggled in Australia on seamer friendly conditions in Brisbane 0/103, then in Adelaide had a mysterious "back injury" on the morning of the game,..probably after seeing the track. It turned out to be a smart move for Vernon as the Sth African bowlers took a pounding..Australia were 3/490 at Stumps the second highest first day score in the games history. He then returned for Perth as all fast bowlers do and took 3-4 wickets for the match. He's dominated in bowler friendly conditions in England & Sth Africa,...let's look at his stats in 2-3 years.

Posted by born2DIE on (February 18, 2013, 21:54 GMT)

Philander at this moment is no doubt a world best bowler along with others like Steyn, Anderson, Ajmal, etc. But, you cannot compare apples with oranges, so whatever guts and skills he have, it makes him a world-class bowler. I am from Pakistan but i never failed to appreciates players like Kallis, Amla, Steyn, Devillers, Smith etc. These are those players who keeps the interest in competitions & always worthy to watch.

Posted by   on (February 18, 2013, 21:49 GMT)

Smith knows his team better than any other.The guy stands at slip and knows when bowlers are flagging or the team is losing verve.It in no way detracts from Philanders efforts but is more a sign that the team wants to up its level. Also Smith must be thinking of all eventualities and the subcontinent where the new ball lasts 10 overs and reverse swing is the weapon later on.High pace normally works best with reverse. Lets wait and see how Philander develops instead of comparing him with Steyn which is unfair on both the bowlers.

Posted by CamS71 on (February 18, 2013, 21:40 GMT)

Given his stats I'd leave his bowling well alone. Pace isn't his weapon so why risk messing up his groove with quest for unnecessary pace?

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (February 18, 2013, 21:21 GMT)

Jackson Bird averages 16.08 and James Pattinson 22.09 (was below 20 until recently), both ahead of Dale Steyn, and Bird (2 tests old) is ahead of Vernon Philander too. Perhaps the article should have said "of players who have at least 50 test wickets" or something along those lines? Philander has had a good start to his test career, statistically at least, but there have been plenty of others who have started well and ended up falling by the wayside. Even Brett Lee started with a test average of 16 for his first few tests. The key is whether Philander can keep it up. If he can, then he will be doing very well. Philander did very poorly in Australia, and he will need to avoid repeats of such poor performances, when he feigned injury in order to prevent his average blowing out too far.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (February 18, 2013, 21:12 GMT)

@ Swingit Your post suggests that it is you, & not all Protea fans, who, to use your words, are deluded. SA ARE #1, & lead Eng by 6 points, Aus by 7. A claim like your "supposedly" is conjecture without verifiable BASIS IN FACT.

The Kallis-Sobers debate has no definite conclusion. Sobers leads batting ave by 1.68, His best was 63.91 to Kallis' 58.2. Kallis leads bowling ave by 1.6: Sobers' best was 18.57 to Kallis' 20.6. Kallis leads bowling SR by far - 23.1 points, yet Sobers' best was 44.7, Kallis' 60.8.

In the ICC "best ever" ratings, Sobers leads batting by 3 points, Kallis leads bowling by 33 points, & all-rounder Sobers leads by 53.

Stats cannot clearly indicate whose record is better: playing at different time & under differing conditions, no clear criteria separate them. They are due equal respect. As a Saffa & huge Kallis fan, in MY opinion Sobers just edges out Kallis. Your claim that Kallis "is not even a shadow of Sobers," is both disrespectful, & as you say, deluded.

Posted by SivaSurapaneni on (February 18, 2013, 21:10 GMT)

Why? Does Smith wants to help other coutries by making Philander ineffective? What is the use of having unidimensional payers in the team? We know how Irphan Pathan suffered in the quest of speed.

Posted by gothetaniwha on (February 18, 2013, 21:03 GMT)

Smith is wrong here Philander does not need to up his pace .Sir R Hadlee first 100 odd wickets as a fast bowler came at over 30 .Cut down his run up and drop his pace a bit and learned to seam it cut it both ways ended up with 431 at 22 .Don't change what ain't broke Philander is World Class already .

Posted by   on (February 18, 2013, 20:35 GMT)

If it ain't broke don't fix it

Posted by   on (February 18, 2013, 20:17 GMT)

It seems that Pak team / selection committee is continuously failing to read the wicket correctly & select proper team. In the first test, Irfan should have been included. In the second test, Abdur Rehman was missing. They have already lost the series to SA. May be they will learn their lesson & select proper team for the third test.

Posted by AK47_pk on (February 18, 2013, 20:14 GMT)

Those who are calling pakistan batting as club level should check list of runs in ongoing series. Pakistan have 4 batsmen in top 7 run getters nd sa have 3. Stats speak better I think.

Posted by Wexfordwonder on (February 18, 2013, 20:01 GMT)

@ swingit greatness is not something to be grasped but it is something that ensues from the results. It cannot be anticipated but only appreciated. No one knows what this SA side will become in the future but for now they are deserved of the name of being the best team in the world having beaten each of their 3 closest rivals. Whilst I agree with you that the rankings are somewhat arbitrary in the short term, beating the 3 closest contenders, 2 at home, is surely deserved of being named the best team around. Number one is what they call the best team. Rampant, dominant, great, well maybe that needs to wait, but number one seems about right at the moment.

Posted by   on (February 18, 2013, 19:55 GMT)

most of the matched he played in SA and even other are in Aus/NZ and in Eng..yet to bowl in Asian pitches...and even his records other than SA are not impressive..

Posted by SurlyCynic on (February 18, 2013, 19:53 GMT)

@Swingit: You don't have to be 'great' to be the #1 team, you just have to be better than all the other teams at the moment. Which SA most certainly are.

Posted by   on (February 18, 2013, 19:49 GMT)

I'm sorry but these comments from Smith are either misquoted or just plain stupid. I know Smith is only trying to challenge him to keep him hungry, but he really needs to be careful here.

A guy who's the best bowler for 100 years, why would you want to push him to change anything??? Especially when you know he has a flaky hamstring. There's nothing wrong with his pace anywayl, 130-135k, that's as quick as Steyn or any other fast bowlers on the circuit typically bowl. Trying to mess with his action or rhythm is only going to be counterproductive.

Hopefully Vern puts ear plugs in and doesn't change anything at all, as he is as close to perfect as a bowler can get.

Posted by Raziulnur on (February 18, 2013, 19:44 GMT)

Smith should advise morkel to improve his line n length. morkel is the weakest of SA bowlers and needs a lot of consistency. this may be harmful to vernon if he listens to smith.

Posted by DeckChairand6pack on (February 18, 2013, 19:43 GMT)

Ever since Vern's second coming, I've been thinking to myself, 'someone's going to line him up soon and he's going to be found out.' He's got that military medium look about him and seems innocuous. BUT, he just keeps piling on the wickets. Sure, he's had one or two bad days, but so does everyone, even the greats mentioned below. With Vern's consistent line and approach I reckon he's going to do well far more often than he is not. As far as an extra yard of pace, I'm not so sure. He's a big unit and comes through the crease like a train. Better to just conserve the body.

Posted by jondebi on (February 18, 2013, 19:37 GMT)

OhhhhhMattyMatty, are you having a joke? I am English myself and even I can see that Finn and Tremlett wouldn't get anywhere near this South African team, maybe Anderson would but the other two, no chance. We also were outplayed at home this Summer so let's get real.

Posted by Dale_Pain on (February 18, 2013, 19:37 GMT)

England and Aus prepared flat tracks (especially the oval) to try and negate SA attack. Philander's away stats look even better given this FACT

Posted by   on (February 18, 2013, 19:35 GMT)

@Swingit: Alright, the rankings may be a farce, but so far we haven't lost a test series away from home in 6 years, have been undefeated for a record-equalling 14 tests in a row, and have now won 6 Test series in a row. So it's not too far off to call us number 1.

But I think you are calling us delusional because we are celebrating Philander and Kallis. The reasons for our celebrating these two players is that Kallis has now achieved better stats than Garry Sobers, and Philander has a chance of equalling Lohmann's record which has stood for well over 100 years. I think any country would celebrate these achievements.

Posted by maddy20 on (February 18, 2013, 19:34 GMT)

Probably the most naive comment by Smith in many years. Remember the rule "If it ain't broken, don't fix it". While it is true that fast bowlers rely on pace to pick wickets, there are some exceptions. Wasim Akram, McGrath etc., never had a lot of pace, but were devastating with both the new and old ball, specially Akram, who picked about half of his wickets in the slow wickets of the sub-continent. While it is true that Philander needs to fine-tune his old ball skills a wee-bit , asking him to up his pace is probably not very prudent. I can think of 'n' number of bowlers who messed up their careers because they tried to tinker with their action, in order to get more pace on the ball.

Posted by Smahuta on (February 18, 2013, 19:25 GMT)

9 5 fors in 15 tests is outstanding no matter where you play. End of story! Not sure he should up his pace really, he doesn't need to change anything. He will learn on the sub continent pitches as showed in CT which was very like those pitches found in the sub continent. He seemed to make the ball talk both ways, 60 overs old. Lets wait till SA tour the UAE later on in the year to see what happens there.

Posted by mzm149 on (February 18, 2013, 19:19 GMT)

@kevivnajar: I totally agree with you. Philander is an all rounder. He can score a few centuries against Indian bowling too.

Posted by mahjut on (February 18, 2013, 19:13 GMT)

Mr_Ronan ... your post was deliberately disingenuous! No-one includes tour matches in their stats [certainly 'series stats' don't for very obvious reasons]. Vern has had one bad match (he had some not great ones in England but mainly was unlucky there getting loads of edges). The fact he hasn't played in the subcontinent yet means people are waiting (hoping he'll fails mainly, but saffers will be hoping he proves successful)! however, his stats are "astonishing" by any measure - the measurement here being the quickest to 100 wickets (and the specific comparison being G Lohmann - a guy who played over 110 years ago, also not in the subcontinent) ... coming close to breaking 100 year old record is worth mentioning no matter how many people don't want to hear it

Posted by OhhhhhMattyMatty on (February 18, 2013, 18:47 GMT)

Philander looked pedestrian against an out of sorts England last Summer. I reckon a full strength England XI would smash him to all parts. He'd struggle for a game ahead of Finn, Anderson and Tremlett!

Posted by Swingit on (February 18, 2013, 18:46 GMT)

@iDontLikeCricket supposedly #1 because there is no number 1 test player nation. Those ranking are a farce. when Proteas can dominate like the windies did for 15 year or the Aussies did for a decade then i will happily label them "number one; no silly ICC ranking needed. The problemI have is that Saffas seem so hungry to show how good they are (and mind you they are a very good team just nowhere approaching great) that anyone with some talent on their team is hailed a a Viv, a Sobers, a Garvaska, a Macgrath, I mean come on. Dale deserves most accolades he gets and even he has ways to go to match any of the bowling greats (he seriously CANT even yet match the Windies pace factory products from Roberts to Walsh, the Aussie greats from Lillee, Thompson or Macgrath, nor Kapil, nor Hadlee nor Imran or the two Ws). So when Proteas fans calm down and get off their Kallis and Vernon high they will appear less delusional.

Posted by mahjut on (February 18, 2013, 18:40 GMT)

well, Hang on Naysayers! Why on earth would you mention a tour game unless desperately trying to force an argument your way. Go on series averages and tour games are NEVER included ... obviously!! *eye-roll*

Posted by Josh1942 on (February 18, 2013, 18:40 GMT)

McGrath was never ever a 145kmph bowler. That is just dream time. Occasionally (say every 2 to 3 years) he may have got to 140 with the occasional ball but that was it. If he tried to be faster he became very inaccurate and had to bowl much shorter giving the batsman a free boundary shot.He averaged between 125 to a top speed of 135kmph.That is why Steyn is so brilliant - he can do everything McGrath did but at much higher speed. That is what Smith is trying to say to Philander. But VP has hamstring problems and should continue on his present path. Morkel need to bowl a little slower and learn accuracy and control before speeding up again.

Posted by burhank4666 on (February 18, 2013, 18:32 GMT)

philander is very similar to Mohammad Asif of pakistan,,,, as tendulker said about him "it is almost impossible to pick his leg/off cutters until the ball pitched",,,,,,,, i have not seen any batsman in the world, neither ponting nor tandulker comfortable against him ,,,,,,,,,, i give him edge on philender,,,,,,,, because he is more fit, tall, easy & smooth action and younger than him ,,,,, i wish he come back and entertain us with his gifted bowling skills

Posted by   on (February 18, 2013, 18:24 GMT)

Every body here that is criticising VP - just ask yourself this acid test Q - would you pick VP in your own current national team? I think the answer is obviously "yes" in 99.9% of sane commenters.

Doesn't that speak for itself?

Posted by NixNixon on (February 18, 2013, 18:15 GMT)

People your comments are laugable. Cummins plays one test agains SA where he takes 7 wickets in an innings and the whole world herolds him as the best bowler in the world. Vernon takes 87 wicket in 15 and he still has to prove himself. whatever!!!!

Posted by Mr_Ronan on (February 18, 2013, 17:59 GMT)

HANG ON GUYS...Philander is a very good bowler but it is WAY to early to start judging him against great bowlers because he has had all his success on the extremely helpful seaming wickets of SA, Eng and NZ. In his 3 games, including a tour match, on flatter wickets in Australia where you actually have to work for your wickets, he took just 4 at an average of 75 !! And that was against a supposedly mediocre Aussie batting lineup. Eg. If an Asian spinner dominated in his first 15 Tests but 13 of those were played in the subcontinent and the two he'd played elsewhere he got smashed, EVERYONE would be saying "Let's see how he goes in Australia/Eng/SA first before declaring him a genius". This is in no way to bag Philander, who is a great talent, but to simply temper the hyperventilating praise he receives from many.

Posted by   on (February 18, 2013, 17:42 GMT)

I can definately see why Smith wants Philander to boost his pace because on sub continental pitches when the ball isnt swinging Philander will struggle because his pace doesn't scare batsmen. However,it maybe a dangerous ploy to try to increase Philanders pace as he has been getting injured frequently recently so add more strain on the body may cause more injury. South Africa need to keep him away from limited overs cricket as it will affect his bowling discipline.South Afrcia need to give CJ De villiers and Chris Morris ago. However, Chris Moris looks like he puts a lot of strain when he bowls and looks like he may get injured frequently if put into a test match. Morris doesnt have a slick economocal bowling action of Steyn. Morkel Needs to pitch the ball up more in tests and should be kept away from limited overs cricket as well as he gets taken for quite a few runs in limited overs cricket.

Posted by Gareth_Bain on (February 18, 2013, 17:41 GMT)

Spot the circular reasoning: Vernon Philander only takes wickets on greentops. Definition of a greentop: any wicket Vernon Philander takes wickets on. Like those famous greentops down in New Zealand.

Seriously though, Smith's comment is silly. Remember McGrath was 145+ in his first two or three years, and was Philander's pace for most of his career. He had an alright career, or so I'm told...

Posted by iDontLikeCricket on (February 18, 2013, 17:40 GMT)

@Swingit, I don't recall anyone ever claiming that VP is "Marshall, Waqar and Wasim rolled into one". All I see is a bowler who has taken 15 matches to claim 87 wickets, and is currently ranked number 2 in the world with a rating that puts him quite high on the list of all time highest ratings. Perhaps this is his career peak, but it's an impressive peak indeed. Why can't that be celebrated? Someone having a chance to equal Lohman's record does not happen often and should be celebrated and recognised. The articles and comments so far have done that. Plus some comments defending him against those who think he is 'rubbish' or those effectively lessening his achievements because of the conditions. As an aside, who is the 'real' number one test team - you seem to think it is not South Africa? ("supposedly #1 status"). There might be some truth in that it is easier to perform in a strong winning team. But VP is playing his part in creating that environment, not only feeding off it.

Posted by Fareen on (February 18, 2013, 17:38 GMT)

I'm laughing at all the people commenting and saying that Philander only performs in home conditions...With that logic, most of the subcontinent batsmen are useless (which they clearly aren't). Philander bowled exceedingly well in Newzealand, England and Australia except that 1 test match where he didn't perform (all bowlers had that kind of test match). He's an astonishing bowler, obviously has weaknesses, but he has learned to use his strengths perfectly.

Posted by ARad on (February 18, 2013, 17:33 GMT)

I am not sure if asking Vernon to bowl fast with the old ball is neither good for him nor SA cricket. SA does have others who can bowl faster like Steyn and Morkel. Considering that VP has a chronic back problem, asking him to put more effort into his bowling may make it worse. McGrath never had much speed and was still successful towards the end of his career when he lost even more pace. Vaas was another example of a bowler without much pace but still was wily. Philander should be considered to be such a bowler, someone who teases rather than intimidates. Golden geese won't lay the eggs forever or as fast as you would like to have them. By indirectly pressuring Philander, Smith may be doing a DISSERVICE TO SA CRICKET in the long run because Philander may try to change his action, for example, which can ruin everything. Remember KISS and leave alone the things that are working well.

Posted by crkt4evr on (February 18, 2013, 17:32 GMT)

v indians have lost/over looked lots of bowlers due to our OBSESSION with seeing bowlers bowl 140+ now we neither have the quicks nor swing please dont make him do things which he cant do which may affect his natural abilities(2 way movt & consistency)...its best to let him bowl the way he can rather than making him bowl the way u/world want

Posted by Sanjiyan on (February 18, 2013, 17:24 GMT)

Anyone can take any player(current or past) and make them look godlike or schoolboy level by magnifying certain stats. Fact of the matter is, Vern is taking wickets by the bucket at the moment. Will he be able to keep doing it? Who knows, but if hes a comparable bowler to McGrath(line and length with a hint of seam) chances are he'll keep doing it. If he manages to gain 1 yard of pace, he'll be even deadlier than he is now. Keep it up Vern. Hope your critics will be eating their humble pies sooner rather than later.

Posted by iDontLikeCricket on (February 18, 2013, 17:09 GMT)

@DylanBrah, thanks for the correction. I hadn't considered the warm-up game.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (February 18, 2013, 17:09 GMT)

Am I the only one here thinking "if something aint broke, why try to fix it?" Since when has out-and-out pace been everything in cricket, especially in tests? Philander is obviously doing things right and IMO messing around with his action etc. is very low priority. Taking the pace off the ball often reaps reward, especially when you already have guys like Steyn and Morkel around you to inflict pace. Philander is not an opening bowling in my opinion; he is a perfect 'partnership' bowler, and usually performs best when he comes on 2nd or 3rd change.

Posted by   on (February 18, 2013, 17:08 GMT)

Philander is another Rodney Hogg to me...!!!! Time will tell....

Posted by Swingit on (February 18, 2013, 17:02 GMT)

Seriously dudes i think the Proteas fans are becoming deluded because of their supposedly #1 status. First Kallis is not only the equal to but far superior to Sir Garfield as a cricketer (the best cricketer who ever live those poor delusional souls call him when he is not even a shadow of Sobers) and now Vernon Fidlle-around-er is one of the greatest bowlers? I guess they think VP is Marshall, Waqar and Wasim all rolled in one. Yeah right. Vernon is simply Darren Sammy or Kumar with a little bit more luck (luck for playing in conditions that suits him, a strike bowler that have the batsmen nervous that VP can get slice them up and a batting line up that will give him runs to work with)

Posted by iDontLikeCricket on (February 18, 2013, 17:02 GMT)

@Zahidsaltin, unfortunately I was only able to watch some of the game on tv and for the rest I followed the cricinfo commentary and match reports. I don't remember any mention that the ball was 'much harder'. Did one of the players / umpires say that? Were you at the ground where you could compare them?

Posted by TurningSquare on (February 18, 2013, 16:52 GMT)

The easiest way for Vern to gain that extra yard of pace would be to turn his 'extra' body fat into muscle or just get leaner. It's safe to say he isn't the model athlete. If he ups his training regime he won't put any unnecessary strain on his body trying to strive for more pace with his current build.

Posted by shovwar on (February 18, 2013, 16:50 GMT)

Peterson is the best medium pace bowler of all time in Test!!!!!

Exactly....this is how you sound when u say "he is riubbish....".

We are very quick to comment negetive on anything but it takes us ages to look into the positives...Give the lad some time and he would prove it. Give him a break.

Posted by DylanBrah on (February 18, 2013, 16:49 GMT)

Philander only gets wickets in home conditions. @iDontLikeCricket - actually he played a tour match against Australia A as well and took 0/88 and 0/8, which means he took 0/199 in his first 2 matches in Australia. No exactly flattering statistics.

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (February 18, 2013, 16:41 GMT)

Philander is just one of those phenomena which hit the stage every now and again. One has to ask whether he understands it. Certainly his method is simple enough and is just too much for so many batsmen.Bad luck about the hamstrings but that's bowling for you. I think he will survive an cause a lot of misery to batsmen around the world. More pace would not inconvenience him at all.

Posted by cansuffer on (February 18, 2013, 16:39 GMT)

At tony122 Tony i am a suffer supporter- cant agree more with your comment!

Posted by WaqasJoyia on (February 18, 2013, 16:36 GMT)

i think the reak test for flindar is when he is playing at subcontnunt pitches.he took 87 wickets at seamer friendly wickets like in south africa ,england and australia and when he played in india i think he take hardly 5 wickets in 3 test.

Posted by iDontLikeCricket on (February 18, 2013, 16:35 GMT)

@blink182alex, you make some good points, and I also suspect that his career stats will look more 'normal' towards the end of his career, especially considering that averages often fall as as players age.

However, I don't agree with the idea of combining his performance against England and Australia to get a 'better representation of his ability'. Against England he took 12 wickets at 23.6. In the second test in Australia he took 4 wickets at 24. So for four of those five games in your sample, he averages under 24, but you say he is a '30 average' bowler? How do you make that leap?

The problem with statistics with a small sample set (15 tests) is that one outlier can drastically alter the result. In this case it is the 0/103.

From the stands perhaps Philander 'looks' like a decent 3rd seamer, and maybe that is what opposition test batsmen think in the dressing room. But he has proven that wrong. It's unfair to judge him on games he hasn't played (i.e. subcontinent); all we can do i

Posted by Beertjie on (February 18, 2013, 16:32 GMT)

As someone born in the same area of Cape Town as Vernon, I am glad to see him succeed to the extent that he has! To reach such heights as to rival Lohman who played under conditions so different from what Vernon has played under is staggering to contemplate. Still, I doubt he will keep up this kind of performance any more than Hussey could in batting, so mostly agree @blink182alex on (February 18, 2013, 15:49 GMT) "his stats flatter his ability at this point". However he is quite a bit better than "a decent 3rd seamer"!

Posted by Zahidsaltin on (February 18, 2013, 16:27 GMT)

WRONG, he didn't prove to be good old ball bowler in the second innings as that only happened because he got the ball changed to a much harder ball which did the trick. Umpires needed to get a changed ball of the same hardness as the one which was changed out. They failed to do that and effected the outcome of the match.

Posted by Dale_Pain on (February 18, 2013, 16:26 GMT)

I really think the Proteas need to think long term with their back up bowlers. Kleinveldt is nearly 30 years old! Surely the back ups bowlers should be Gqamane, Morris, Viljoen, Abbott, Birch or de Lange?

Steyn and Morkel got many matches in their early 20s and now we are reaping those rewards. We need to expose one, maybe two youngsters in the upcoming dead rubber. Morkel's injury provides us with a great opportunity - sadly we will give it to a great back up bowler who is approaching the autumn of his career..

Posted by agarkarno1 on (February 18, 2013, 16:25 GMT)

He is a very good bowler going by stats. But not a special bowler like Steyn. He lacks that pace and the x-factor to frighten the opposition and he can be negated in future. But good start much like Agarkar to be the fastest to get 50 wickets in ODIs.

Posted by bestbuddy on (February 18, 2013, 16:16 GMT)

I dont get all the criticism; so his average in aus after just 2 tests is close to 50 - warnes average after 9 tests in India was 43, despite India having the best conditions for spin. No one is saying Warne wasnt a good bowler. Say what anyone likes, Philander was the fastest to 50 wickets in terms of balls bowled, doing it 25% faster than anyone ever, and is odds on to achieve a similar record for 100 wickets. This in an age where pitches are at their least bowler-friendly - covered, only allowed so much grass, so much watering, etc. The only reason his stats might be inflated is due to the poor techniques of players bred in an age of t20

Posted by tony122 on (February 18, 2013, 16:14 GMT)

Philander is a good bowler and has made a fantastic start. But my honest opinion he will not be able to sustain it. While a good bowler his achievements to my mind is a 'normal' statistical oddity. Or in other words he has got very lucky. And in any case with his kind of bowling he will struggle in Australia,WI and Asia.

Posted by bighit14 on (February 18, 2013, 16:00 GMT)

It might be a bit too much for Smith to ask from philander. He is bowling superbly and he should not risk spoiling him by increasing his pace.

Posted by PureProteas49 on (February 18, 2013, 15:59 GMT)

omg you guys are funny, you dont get a more SC prepared deck than this newlands test, yet pak failed, on the real SC decks (as you put it) vern will rip your hearts out and show it to you, cant wait

Posted by   on (February 18, 2013, 15:58 GMT)

gunnerz ... "Dont judge him as "the best" yet!!! He is yet to play in ANY asian country. Lets see how good he is in India. Reality will be harsher then!!"


Yeah right!! Especially since the Indian team are such prolific players of seam and pace.

Posted by blink182alex on (February 18, 2013, 15:49 GMT)

I do think his stats flatter his ability at this point. After seeing him close up in England and Australia he looked like a decent 3rd seamer able to back up Steyn and Morkel and keep things tight. Against England and Australia he took 16 wickets in 5 tests at an average of 30, which i think is a better representation of his ability.

Will be interesting if he can keep this up for another 4 years, or will his stats drift to that of most in test cricket. Remember, Mike Hussey averaged 80 odd for the first 3 years before going back to a still very respectable 50 odd.

Posted by iDontLikeCricket on (February 18, 2013, 15:42 GMT)

@TheBigBoodha, "It took him 5 innings to take a wicket in Australia. Enough said". Philander only played in two test matches in Australia and bowled in three innings, and the first test match was notable for Australia only batting once and losing only 5 wickets. No SA bowler looked good that day (for example, Steyn 1/129). In his second (not fifth) innings he picked up Watson and Ponting in figures of 2/55. Not MotM stuff, but hardly as dire as you've made out.

Posted by gunnerz on (February 18, 2013, 15:41 GMT)

Dont judge him as "the best" yet!!! He is yet to play in ANY asian country. Lets see how good he is in India. Reality will be harsher then!!!!

Posted by   on (February 18, 2013, 15:33 GMT)

VP has taken 87 wickets in 15 Tests and he is being criticized!!! This is crazy!! He has only played 15 Tests people! Give the guy a break! He is still learning his craft and how to bowl in "away" conditions. The fact that he has taken so many wickets (in 15 Tests) on a team with bowlers of the caliber of Steyn, Morkel and Kallis is incredible!! Steyn is the best pace bowler in the world, so the competition for wickets on a team with such high quality bowlers in intense. Can't understand why so many people are hating on VP! I challenge anyone to name a bowler in the last ten years that make batsmen play and miss as often as VP. With a little more luck, he could have had 100 wickets already!! Keep on doing what you are doing VP, don't let the haters get to you!!

Posted by iDontLikeCricket on (February 18, 2013, 15:27 GMT)

@nauman421, that is a good question. I looked them up - outside SA he averages 21.83 with a healthy strike rate of 46.9. Amazingly that average would still put him top of the list of active bowlers (according to the article). Effectively he had one terrible return in Australia (0/103) and two decent ones (2/55 and 2/41). I know jonesy2 has been one of his biggest critics, but two out of three decent performances is hardly terrible. It's unfair to judge a player on his performance in his worst test and ignore the others where he has been statistically incredible. In the Cape Town game vs Australia where he claimed 5/15 and 3/63, Peter Siddle only managed 0/16 and 1/49. Does that mean he is rubbish? No of course not - he is a great bowler, just wasn't his best day game.

Posted by SurlyCynic on (February 18, 2013, 15:20 GMT)

Have to laugh at jonesy2's obvious windups. I guess this slow dusty pitch in Cape Town which suited Ajmal so much (and where Vern got 9-99) is a 'green top'!

Posted by TheBigBoodha on (February 18, 2013, 15:19 GMT)

His record is totally inflated by the fact that he has rarely played on a pitch that isn't a seamers's dream. It took him 5 innings to take a wicket in Australia. Enough said. Rarely bowls over 135? Don't you mean he rarely reaches 130?

Posted by SyedAreYouDumb on (February 18, 2013, 15:12 GMT)

Suprised he hasn't been playing in odi's!

Posted by   on (February 18, 2013, 15:04 GMT)

Out of africa figures 37 wickets at 21.83 with 3 5 fers and 1 10fer wow there are plenty bowlers at present who would want those figures

Posted by   on (February 18, 2013, 15:04 GMT)

He took wickets at lords when its was flat, he took 4 wickets at newlands this weekend and it was flat, he took wickets in New zealand on that flat track, he took wickets in england when flat tracks were produced. Not all the wickets in the second innings in SA, Australia and England are green tops in the second innings. Have anyone checked how many balls batters edge that dropped short on those flat wickets. From now on all teams are going to prepair flat tracks against SA for fear of being bowled out sub 50.

Shrinaath Paravasthu do you dare compare a hospital case with Steyn???

It's always the fans of countries that lost against SA that wants to undermine the performances of our bowlers. There is such a lot of Legends that struggled in flat conditions but are still greats of yesteryear. Be happy for the kid that came from a poor community to make a mark in test cricket and rub shoulders with the great cricketers of the world.

Posted by HighwayToHell on (February 18, 2013, 14:58 GMT)

Lucky for the rest of the world, the ICC doesn't use 2 new balls in Test cricket. These Proteas bowlers would have been even more lethal.

Posted by matchfixerpkn on (February 18, 2013, 14:53 GMT)

kevivnajar..out of 3 asian teams only india draw series in s africa...when same bowlers wer ..he will still aim his best chance aginast pak who have below par club level batting ....(even bangladesh have much potential batting line up)

Posted by mazzawizza on (February 18, 2013, 14:52 GMT)

@nauman421 37 wickets in 8 appearances at an average of 21.83

Posted by matchfixerpkn on (February 18, 2013, 14:52 GMT)

kevivnajar..ya its true..taking wicket against paksitan is cake walk for any bowlers...his real test will come when he will play ohter opponntws who dnt have club level batsmans

Posted by spas on (February 18, 2013, 14:51 GMT)

Philander is yet to be tested in unfriendly conditions. If he could flourish like Steyn did, we could read this kind of article more meaningfully.

Posted by   on (February 18, 2013, 14:51 GMT)

Philander reminds of Ghambhir in many ways. Amazing in his first 30 tests, leavinh him the no 1 ranked bat in the world for a short while. When you took a look at his record though you saw quickly that the only cricket he had played outside the sub continent was in NZ. Not trying to detract from what Philander has accomplished. Deadly new ball bowler he is, but to call him great and match him with Steyn and the other greats? Well i suppose he had to write an article about something.

Posted by   on (February 18, 2013, 14:50 GMT)

Jonesy on a wind-up I see. Vernon averages 22 away. Not exactly shoddy... He's basically had one bad test away from home, against Australia on the flattest of batting tracks imaginable. Other than that, he's been extraordinary. Not much more to say when the stats speak for themselves...

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on (February 18, 2013, 14:47 GMT)

The one thing that Steyn, Philander and Morkel don't have that Wasim and Waqar had are Yorkers at will. Instead of pace, I would ask all the three of them to develop bowling Yorkers at will, like those two Pakistani greats.

Posted by   on (February 18, 2013, 14:45 GMT)

@ Shrinaath. Spot on. In south africa hes world class. And maybe with the Duke in England as well. Everywhere else? Cant wait to see it. :)

Posted by nauman421 on (February 18, 2013, 14:31 GMT)

Would anybody bother to comment on his out of South Africa figures????

Posted by jonesy2 on (February 18, 2013, 14:20 GMT)

so smith wants to uprade him to a medium pacer? how many wickets has he got on none green tops against decent opposition? how many wickets did he get in australia again? and you can include the waca if you want. a green top bully of the highest order. wouldnt pick him in my side unless the pitch was juicy enough for grandma to nip it around. amazing start to the test career yes, will it be sustained? no chance, would love to see him take a wicket in the sub continent when he cant even take one at the worlds best and most sporting surface the gabba.

Posted by   on (February 18, 2013, 14:14 GMT)

Dale Steyn's average in Eng is 31 and in Australia around 28-.

Posted by   on (February 18, 2013, 13:51 GMT)

"Of all current cricketers, Philander has the lowest average by some distance. Steyn is next with an average of 22.68" - James Pattiinson's average is 22.09 Its all good that people praise Vernon Philander . But he has played mostly in conditions which are extremely helpful to seam bowling . In australia where bowl doesn't swing much , he was pathetic . He took 4 wickets in 2 matches @ nearly 50 . It is unfair on Steyn to compare his average with Philander . Steyn stands among the greatest . He performs irrespective of conditions unlike Philander

Posted by kevivnajar on (February 18, 2013, 13:51 GMT)

Philander can still equal the record to be the fastest to 100 wkts. For that he must skip the next few matches, and directly play against India later this year. He will have atleast 15 wkt for taking. But yes - any good bowler will want to take wickets against quality opponents..!

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