'Big Vern' Philander excited by depth of fast bowling talent in SA

08 January 2022 - 11:57
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Ex-Proteas fast bowler Vernon Philander.
Ex-Proteas fast bowler Vernon Philander.
Image: Darren Stewart/Gallo Images

Though they have shown inconsistencies, former SA all-rounder Vernon Philander is excited about the Proteas' current options and depth in their fast bowling attack, which he says need to be properly managed.

Led by Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortjé, the current crop includes Lungi Ngidi, Duanne Olivier, Marco Jansen, Beuran Hendricks, Glenton Stuurman, Lutho Sipamla, Sisanda Magala, Junior Dala and Wiaan Mulder.

Philander was impressed with the quicks in SA's memorable seven-wicket victory against India at the Wanderers, though also noticed areas where there is room for improvement.

“They did reasonably well by bowling India out for 202, but I still feel in patches we bowled badly,” Philander said after watching SA's bowling display in India's first innings.

“There is obviously room for improvement because there are a bunch of young guys like Marco Jansen at the beginning of his Test career and Duanne Olivier, who is back from his county stint.

“There is also Lungi Nidi who is still relatively new to international cricket. So, I do feel that we bowled well in patches in the second Test, and we could have done better.”

“Big Vern” predicted big things to come from the current crop of fast bowlers, adding that they need proper mentoring and for their workloads to be managed.

“All we need is to make sure that we keep mentoring and pushing them in the right direction,” he said.

“It is good to have options available, and I am pretty sure that if you look outside the current circle of players, there will be a few more to choose from but it all goes down to how you manage them.

“It is about how you actually make sure that guys understand their roles, what part of the journey they are actually on and there must be a proper communication process.

“You need a 19-year-old player to know that they can be playing for the Proteas at the age of 22 and these are the list of things they need to do to get there. We need to sit people down and tell them this is where you are now, and this is potentially where we see you in four years.

“Obviously people progress differently but I do feel that we can manage our players differently. There must be mentorship, where you can use the older players who have been there and done that to guide these younger players, and I am always available to help.”

The Proteas have unleashed Marco Jansen in the series against India and the lanky fast bowler caught Philander’s eye.

“He is someone with huge potential and obviously still raw, but these guys need mentors and to be managed properly. It is about the sort of work that goes on away from the actual match, like what are they doing in preseason and are they working to get better with time.

“When 'KG' [Rabada] or Nortje breaks down, we must have a replacement but we have always had that thing of producing fast bowlers. From a fast bowler's perspective, I am not worried but it is about how we manage them.

“A couple of years ago we all said that we need to look after KG and he has probably more cricket than most 30-year-olds.”

The third Test at Newlands starts on Tuesday.

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