Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

Cricket: Philander proving hot to handle

Vernon Philander claimed 6-81 yesterday.  Photo / Getty Images
Vernon Philander claimed 6-81 yesterday. Photo / Getty Images

Vernon Philander is test bowling's hottest commodity and is verging on being unplayable for the New Zealand side.

The South African seamer claimed 6-81 in New Zealand's first innings of 275 on day four of the third and final test in Wellington yesterday to continue his rollicking start to his test career.

It was the 26-year-old's sixth five-wicket haul in seven tests, but when he dismissed Doug Bracewell to pick up his fifth scalp of the innings the right-armer reached a minor career milestone and in near record time.

Bracewell's dismissal marked Philander's 50th test wicket, which took him only seven tests, good enough for second equal-fastest of all time alongside Englishman Tom Richardson who arrived at the half-century mark in 1896.

Only Australian Charlie Turner has reached 50 test wickets faster than Philander and Richardson as Turner entered the promised land in six tests in 1888.

Philander said he hadn't read through the history books to take notes on Turner's exploits.

"Funnily enough someone mentioned it to me earlier today out on the boundary fence - Charlie Turner and 1888. If you ask me I wouldn't know about 1888. No research whatsoever," he said.

From his first seven tests - with potentially an another innings of bowling to go today - Philander has picked up 51 wickets at the phenomenal average of 13.58.

New Zealand opener Daniel Flynn, who made 45 and faced an extensive examination from Philander, said the right-armer was a bowler of genuine quality.

"He just hits consistent areas and he's constantly asking questions of you and obviously his record reflects that," the left-hander said.

New Zealand, who are down 1-0 in the series, face a tough ask to save the test tomorrow depending on when South Africa declare and Philander said he was confident his side could roll the Black Caps over again.

"I would like to think so. The bowlers are confident but obviously how the wicket plays and how we take our chances will play a part.

"We obviously want to see how we go about tomorrow morning. We'll have to see how things pan out. Obviously set them a target and obviously have a go at them.

"I think it's a pretty good wicket we're playing on at the moment. If anything the one side is keeping a bit low. Hopefully it can obviously deteriorate a bit more tomorrow morning and assist the bowlers a bit more in the afternoon."

Perhaps unbelievably, given Philander's amazing start to his test career he said he doesn't feel like he is a fixture in a side that boasts an impressive seam attack.

"I wouldn't say I feel like I belong. As I said before I take each test as a new event, and I'd obviously just like to deliver my best and hopefully the wickets keep falling."


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