Vernon Philander had this unique ability to bowl in a straight line and get the ball to seam both ways from an off-stump line. Particularly dangerous with the new ball, often making inroads, Philander was a handly lower-order batter as well.
In a conversation with Sportstar on Wednesday, Philander, who finished with 224 wickets from 64 Tests, said, “The most important thing is to execute your plans when your team needs it.”
Philander, extremely accurate, said he achieved his control with limitless practice. “I would like to perfect my skills away from the game, come fully prepared and showcase it during the match.”
Apart from being a distinct threat to the right-handers, they struggled to pick his deviation, Philander bowled capably against the southpaws.
He said, “I could move it away across them but my most dangerous ball was the one that came into the left-hander.”
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And he formed a potent combination with Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. “We were a perfect combination. Steyn could swing the ball both ways at high speeds, I could seam it around and Morkel was a handful with his steepling bounce.”
Philander revealed, “Importantly, we understood each other’s roles, had that understanding and communication.”
Steyn was the paceman he admired the most and Michael Clarke the most difficult batsman he bowled at. Talking about the present crop of South African pacemen, Philander said, “We did not see Anrich Nortje in this series. He can bowl at speeds close to 150kmph, and be hostile. Had he played, we could have had a completely different series.”
Philander said, “The attack is still inexperienced. Rabada has played most games. Jansen is tall, gets bounce and is slippery. He bowls a good bouncer. But you need consistency in selection for a pack to develop.”
Queried about the Indian pace attack, Philander observed, “Shami’s seam position is so good. He is skiddy too and wins a lot of leg-before appeals. With a unique action, Bumrah can rough up batters with his speed and bounce. And he has a great yorker.”
Philander said, “There is no weak link in this Indian attack. Mohammed Siraj is good and I was very impressed with the skill and attitude shown by Thakur in this Test.”
Asked about Virat Kohli’s captaincy, Philander said, “He has led India from the front. He’s been the best batsman. I do not see any threat to his captaincy in Test cricket.”
Philander admitted he was “disappointed” by Quinton de Kock’s shock retirement, at 29, from Test cricket. He mulled, “Quinton had his best years in Test cricket in front of him,” he said.
He said, “I am a purist. To me Test cricket is the pinnacle. To see young cricketers retiring from Tests when so many Twenty20 leagues are cropping up around the world is disturbing.”
Philander hardly said anything on the field but made the ball ‘talk’.