The decline of South Africa as a test unit has coincided with the decline of pacer Vernon Philander’s bowling form. Philander was quite unbelievable with the ball in his first couple of years in test cricket. The right arm pacer seamed the ball viciously to torment batsmen in all conditions. As South Africa rose to the number 1 test side, Philander played a crucial role in that success.
However, after a stinging 0-3 loss to India away from home, and then a drubbing received at home from England, has put South Africa in disarray. The Proteas currently are ranked sixth in test matches. Philander’s form too has depreciated woefully as the seamer seems to have lost his zeal. In India, the pacer could only play the first test at Mohali, before being ruled out due to injury. As a consequence he not just missed the remaining games of the series, but even the series against England.
In his latest interaction, Philander said that he was eyeing the role of a test all rounder. “What I do is unique: I do what I do. When it comes to the batting side of things, that’s a bonus as well,” Philander said. “We are all different types of bowlers in that set-up. It’s all about combinations at the end of the day. I’ve played a couple of crucial innings towards the back end. Batting at No.8 is just unique,” said Philander.
Adding that effective batting lower down the order makes a difference, Philander said, “If you have a guy who can bat at 8, that makes a difference. So yes, my all-round ability is something, I would like to see that still being part of the fold. That’s what I bring to the party.”
Speaking about the two warm up games he played post his injury, the pacer said, “The first match was touch-and-go from the mental side of things. The second one was much better,” he said. “I have been working hard in the gym. I am getting tired of the gym actually. The body is feeling good and I am looking forward to the season.”