KEN PIESSE loved the opportunity to once again witness a master at work, in South Africa’s 30-something paceman Vernon Philander:
Cricket is ever intriguing. It’s why we all love it so much. In the lead up to this latest Test stoush in South Africa, the form and fitness of the Protea quick men cornered the headlines. Would Dale Steyn play? Would Morne Morkel farewell internationals with a series win? Would Kagiso Rabada again dominate? And what about the new express Lungi Ngidi? Would he overshadow everyone else.
Somehow, we all under-played one of South Africa’s perennials, the 30-something medium pacer Vernon Philander who wheeled in from a short run-up and made the ball talk, capturing two big early wickets, the openers Cam Bancroft and David Warner.
With the wicketkeeper standing up, Philander seemed to be bowling at gentle, comfortable speeds, yet he jagged the ball around menacingly and swung it just when everyone else was bowling gun-barrel straight.
His dismissal of an in-form Warner on the point of lunch was pivotal in South Africa staying in the game.
The toss was a crucial one for the Australians and so often they have dictated by setting a score.
Philander’s sheer brilliance kept them in check and if the wickets are even juicier upcoming, this series could easily go into a decider come Cape Town and Johannesburg, when many holidaying Aussies will be there to witness “live” one of international cricket’s most underrated champions.