Jan 28, 2020
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Breakingnews.koeln ‘Big Vern’ – The Proteas hero who always found a way

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Cape Town – It may not have been the ending he had hoped for, but the standing ovation Vernon Philander received from his team-mates and the small crowd at the Wanderers on Monday told its own story of just how special a Protea he was. Philander, who ends his Test career with 64 caps and 224 wickets…

Breakingnews.koeln Cape
Town – It
may not have been the ending he had hoped for, but the standing ovation Vernon
Philander received from his team-mates and the small crowd at the Wanderers
on Monday told its own story of just how special a Protea he was. Philander, who ends his Test
career with 64 caps and 224 wickets at an average of 22.32,
goes down as one of the best new ball bowlers South African cricket has ever
produced in the format. Seventh on the list of leading
wicket-takers in South African Test history, Philander was already 26-years-old
when he made his Test debut against Australia, famously taking 5/15 to help
bowl the visitors out for 47 in their second innings at Newlands. He hit the ground running and was
an instant success at Test level, but looking at his impeccable record today,
it is an undeniable shame that Philander did not feature more in Proteas whites
over the years. What numbers could he have
achieved?It is, of course, a futile
exercise now and we should not detract from what is already a stellar
contribution to Proteas cricket, but that Philander’s unique skill set took a
relatively long time to rise to the top does make one wonder what could have
been. Philander entered at a time when
the South African attack was being led by the raw pace of Dale Steyn and Morne
Morkel, and he slotted in perfectly between those two to provide an injection
of balance. A product of Ravensmead High
School and Tygerberg Cricket Club just outside Cape Town, Philander sidestepped
a more familiar road to the top that involves private schooling and the very
best in the way of facilities and coaching. Would his career have taken a different
path had he been in the privileged position of having access to those things?
Possibly. Does he think about that? Absolutely not.   “When you come from our sort
of background, there are a couple of other skills that you’re brought up
with,” Philander told media at the Wanderers on Monday, looking back at
his career.”Survival is one of them,
and then you always find a way, regardless of what the conditions are.”It’s something that I will
always be grateful for, especially from where I’ve come from in life.”I’m sitting here today, and
I’ve got no regrets. I’m thoroughly humbled and thankful for the opportunities
that have been given to me.”Philander has signed a Kolpak
deal with Somerset that will be re-evaluated on a year-to-year basis, but he still
wants to be involved in South African cricket in some capacity moving
forward. “I haven’t given it a lot of
thought, but I’d like to be part of it. Maybe in a mentorship kind of role
where we make sure that we keep the younger guys coming through the system up
to scratch,” he said.”I need to go sit with the
higher powers and see how we can accommodate it.”In a country where pace is still
considered king, Philander wants young South African bowlers to focus equally
on their skill-sets. “When you don’t have the
pace, you need other skills to come to the party and I think that I was
fortunate that when I started playing,” he said. “I played with guys like
Charl Willoughby, Alan Dawson and Charl Langeveldt … all skilful bowlers.”I could learn off them and
apply my trade in a rather unique, different way.”Over the years you learn
that the more consistent you can be, regardless of the pace, the more effective
you will be.”I would say we just need to
make sure that we keep topping up on the youngsters and make sure that it’s not
all about pace all the time and that we’re also worried about other skills like
swinging the ball and nipping the ball.”Those are other assets in
the game that will ultimately make you a great bowler one day.”We need to make sure that
we keep those skills alive, but how we go about it, we need to sit down and
make sure that we pass it onto the younger generation.”In the end, images of Philander
limping off the Wanderers turf with a hamstring strain were not fitting for a
man who has gone above and beyond for his country. The memories, though, will last
forever and ‘Big Vern’s’ abilities with the new ball in hand will be spoken
about for generations. “How would I like to be
remembered? As someone who always gave it my all,” he said.”I think that’s all you can
ask for. I’ve left it all out there with no regrets.”

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