There are very few cricketers who can say they had a better first season than Vernon Philander. The right arm seamer had a year to remember for South Africa, taking 63 wickets in just 10 national appearances.
His debut series came against Australia, where the right arm quick tormented the Aussie batsmen from the get go. Eight wickets in his first match, including 5/15 had Philander on cloud nine. Another five wickets in the 2nd Test proved that his debut was no fluke, but it wasn’t enough as Australia snuck home for the victory.
A dominant display against Sri Lanka was followed by another marvellous series against the Black Caps, where Philander notched up his 50th Test wicket in just his 7th match (the second fastest player to do so).
A solid tour of England brought an end to a whirlwind start to his career. His 105 wickets have come at an average of just 18.00, while he is picking up a wicket with every 39.6 deliveries he bowls.
Basing his game on the likes of Glenn McGrath and Shaun Pollock has worked wonders for Philander, who is an excellent foil for the extreme pace of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. His controlled swing bowling makes it very hard for batsmen to settle, who are forced to play at virtually every delivery.
He has also started to feature in South Africa’s ODI and T20 sides, but it his Test form that simply cannot be ignored.
If he can somehow continue his record breaking form, then South Africa will be very hard to beat.