Philander to work on fitness ahead of packed schedule at home

“There have just been too many times when we as a team go, gulp, ‘Vern might be injured again'”

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South Africa all-rounder Vernon Philander will work on his fitness and conditioning ahead of the Proteas’ summer at home.

Philander was unable to make it through the entire four-Test series against England and also missed portions of matches he played in due to injury and illness.

Philander was struck on the hand during the first Test at Lord’s, while a stomach virus led to him being hospitalised during the third Test at The Oval.

He was then ruled out of the fourth and final Test at Old Trafford due to back spasms.

Given that South Africa will play 10 Tests on home soil, including two four-Test series against India and Australia, South Africa captain Faf du Plessis admitted that he wants Philander to be at the top of his game.

“It’s fair that you need to play a lot of cricket for your country and be available for selection and Vern accepts that,” he said. “If you’re only playing one or two Test matches and then off for one or two… there have just been too many times when we as a team go, gulp, ‘Vern might be injured again’. So he’s taken it on board from a fitness point of view.

“We have important series coming up, not that we play series that are not important, but India and Australia at home, it’s eight Test matches and he needs to be fit to get through all of them.”

Du Plessis also conceded that he was frustrated to not have the services of Philander during the fourth Test, which South Africa lost by 177 runs. As a result, it led to them losing the series 3-1.

“The last I spoke to you, I said he’s just got to do a small fitness test but he’ll be fine. So when he woke up with a stiff back the next morning it was frustrating,” Du Plessis said. “For us to have competed and to win Test matches we needed Vern, you need your best players.

“Duanne (Olivier) bowled well this game but Vern is one of the best in these conditions, probably the best in seaming, swinging conditions which has been the case in all four Test matches, so not having him here was very frustrating and disappointing.”

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