WELLINGTON, (Reuters) – Standing less than six feet tall and with a short bustling run-up, Vernon Philander is not the prototypical fast bowler yet his accuracy, late movement away and surprising pace has catapulted him into the record books.
The 26-year-old, who only made his debut against Australia last November, became the joint second fastest bowler to 50 test wickets on Monday when he bowled New Zealand’s Doug Bracewell for a duck.
Philander finished with six for 81, which helped the Proteas bowl New Zealand out for 275, a deficit of 199 runs.
Philander’s sixth five-wicket haul in just his seventh test matched that of England’s Tom Richardson, who also achieved 50 wickets in the first innings of his seventh test, in 1896.
Australia’s Charlie Turner holds the record having achieved his 50th wicket in his sixth test in 1888.
Philander played down his efforts, preferring instead to praise the entire bowling attack.
“Each wicket is important. It has come at a rapid pace, but I’ll take it one pole at a time,” Philander told reporters.
“Bowling form is like batting form. If things go for you, you make sure you keep doing it (and) that’s what I’m doing.
“This attack gives me the freedom to do what I need to do. We’ve got guys who can keep it tight, they keep a hold on the game and give me the chance to strike all the time and to put my skill on show.
“It’s a special squad and a special bowling unit that we have. It’s all coming together.”
Dale Styen was also a thorn in New Zealand’s side, the fast bowler constantly testing their resolve outside off stump and saw two catches put down by JP Duminy and should have had another when Marchant de Lange totally misread a skied ball in the deep.
Morne Morkel also peppered New Zealand with short-pitched bowling off a length that contributed to the pressure.
“They’re at you the whole time, it’s a quality attack (and)there’s no freebies out there,” New Zealand batsman Daniel Flynn said.
“I think you’d find a lot of people would probably say they’re the best seam bowling attack going around in world cricket at the moment.
“They all complement each other and they all come at you in their own different way, its hard to pick one out.
“Obviously Philander reaped the rewards but I think they complement each other and feed off each other.”