Philander has taken 51 wickets in just seven Test matches
South African pace bowler, Vernon Philander has his sights set on having another outstanding series with the ball, when his team take on England in July.
Philander, currently aged 26, has been named the new Glenn McGrath for his impeccable line and length, while also being the second-fastest man to pick up 50 Test wickets in the history of the game.
Speaking exclusively to BBC Sport, Philander said: “He’s a good man to be named after, I base my game on McGrath and Shaun Pollock – that’s where the control, the line and length comes from.”
Philander believes that it is his consistent line and length which has earned him the fearful reputation amongst the cricketing community.
“I know what I want to be doing with the ball, and it’s worked for me. I put my success down to keeping the ball in the right areas and the control that I have,” he said.
Philander, has taken 51 wickets at an average of 26.7 since making his debut for South Africa against Australia in November last year.
In the seven Test matches he has played since debuting, Philander has taken two 10 wicket hauls already, while third ranked Test bowler, James Anderson only has one 10 wicket haul attributed to his name in the past 68 Tests.
South Africa, who face England in July this year, are coming in with a side that is dominant in both its batting and bowling departments.
Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Jacques Kallis make up the pace bowling department, while Smith, Amla, Kallis and de Villiers are all part of an all-star batting lineup.
“Dale Steyn is the number one bowler in the world, so a lot of emphasis is placed on him, that’s something I really like because it means some batsmen might relax when they face me. Added to that, you’ve got Morne Morkel and Jacques Kallis – guys who have been in the side for a long time – so it’s a good attack to be a part of,” Philander said.
Philander, is excited to showcase more of his outstanding bowling, which has continually asked questions of the batsmen, and he hopes to play a vital role in helping South Africa overtake England as the top Test team in the International Cricket Council (ICC) rankings.
“We want to be number one in the world. We haven’t really spoken about it, but what better way of going to number one than beating England in England?” Philander said.
For the first part of the summer, Philander will be part of the England domestic scene, as he gears up to represent Somerset, with the intention of getting used to the conditions in the country.
“I’d like to get used to the conditions and get Somerset off to a good start,” said Philander, who is also a more than useful lower-order batsman, with a first-class average of 26.12,” Philander said.
Philander believes he can improve the way he bowls to the England batsmen by using the domestic league to practice how to consistently hit the correct line and length.
“I want to get used to bowling with the Duke ball and use that to my advantage against England later on in the year. The Duke ball swings a bit more so I like to think I can get a few wickets when I come back and play for South Africa later in the summer,” Philander added.
Even though Philander is representing Somerset for the time being, he could not hide his enthusiasm for the upcoming England series, and said: “I see myself doing well again [against England]. I’m looking forward to the series, even though my focus is on Somerset at the moment.”
Even though Philander will be highly unlikely to come across any of the top six batsmen for England, it will give South Africa a chance to see how he can perform on pitches at The Oval, Headingley and Lord’s.
Ireland captain and opening batsman, William Porterfield, who captained Warwickshire to a two wicket win over Somerset, said: “He doesn’t give you many bad balls and, when he does, you have to capitalise. He nips it around in both directions and doesn’t miss his length much. It was a matter of hanging in there, and putting him under pressure by either batting out of or moving around in the crease.”
Porterfield, also noted that it was extremely difficult to keep Philander under constant pressure.
“However, putting him under pressure is hard because he’s had a lot of success in the past six months and he knows exactly what he’s trying to do. I’m not going to start giving England’s batsmen advice. They have come up against a lot of class acts like Philander so they will have their plans and they will know what they want to do,” he added.
In the past, England never really got the hang of Glenn McGrath’s bowling, so fans from both countries will be waiting in anticipation to see what happens when the English batsmen cross paths with Philander, or also known as “Verne McGrath”.