Vernon Philander: 12 Interesting things to about the South African swing bowler

Born June 24, 1985, Vernon Darryl Philander is an international cricketer who represents South Africa. He is considered as one of the best swing bowlers in contemporary cricket. He impressed everyone in his debut Test by running through the Australian side and turned the game on its head for South Africa. He hails from the nation, which regularly produces quality fast bowlers, but Philander strength is not his pace. His ability to swing the ball both ways at decent speed and the habit of bowling regularly at stumps makes him a dangerous customer. On his 31st birthday, Abhishek Kumar presents 12 interesting things about the South African bowler.

1. International debut on birthday: Philander made his first international appearance for South Africa in an One-Day International (ODI) match against Ireland on his 22nd birthday on June 24, 2007 at Belfast. In his very first ODI, he impressed everyone with his bowling by taking four wickets for just 12 runs.

2. Ripped the Australian side singlehandedly on his debut Test: It took more than four years for him to make his Test debut after playing his first international ODI back in 2007. He was given the chance to represent the South Africa in Tests against Australia. In the first innings, he bowled decently and grabbed three wickets. But in the second innings after South Africa were all out for mere 96, Philander ripped through the Australian by taking his first five-wicket haul. He ran through the Australian side who were looking to give a huge target to the South African but were all out for just 47. South Africa won the match and not surprisingly, Philander was adjudged as the Player of the match.

3. Second fastest to take 50 wickets in Tests: Philander took his 50th against New Zealand on March 26,2012 at Wellington in the first innings of the Test. Doug Bracewell was his 50th Test victim and by doing so, he became the second fastest bowler to take 50 Test wickets. He achieved this feat in his seventh Test, while Charlie Turner holds the record for fastest as he reached this milestone in his sixth match. Other than Philander, Tom Richardson also took his 50 Test wickets in his first seven Tests but he reached this landmark in the second innings of his seventh match, while the South African bowler did that in the first innings of the match. SEE MORE: Vernon Philander: Life and times

4. Happy not to be in IPL: On April 9, 2012, Philander told ESPNCricinfo that he was happy not to be in Indian Premier League (IPL) as it will help him to play more county matches for Somerset and can prepare more for the then upcoming series against England. “The IPL has pros and cons, and I think it’s a good thing I didn’t get it this year,” Philander told ESPNcricinfo. “I can do some preparation ahead of the England series,” said Philander.

5. Fastest South African to take 100 Test wickets: It took only 19 Tests for Philander to complete his 100 wickets, which is a record for South African. With this feat, he became the fastest South African to take 100 Test wickets. Overall, he is the joint-sixth fastest bowler to achieve this feat after Saeed Ajmal (19), Ian Botham (19), Andy Roberts (19), Alf Valentine (19), Colin Blythe (19), Ravichandran Ashwin (18), Clarrie Grimmett (17), Sydney Barnes (17), Glenn Turner (17) and George Lohmann (16).

6. Test bowler at one stage: In December 2013, Philander achieved the coveted number-one-position in ICC Test rankings of bowlers. Philander took over this position in the rankings by going past over his teammate Dale Steyn by four points.

7. Fined for ball tampering: During the first Test between Sri Lanka and South Africa at Galle in July 2014, Philander was caught scratching the ball with his fingers and thumb. He was caught in the act on day three of the match and was further fined 75% of his match fees by match referee Jeff Crowe for breaching clause 42.1 of ICC. Philander did not contest the charge so no hearing was necessary. Notably, it helped South African pacer in getting reverse-swing in a spell after tea as he got three more wickets of Sri Lankan side.

8. Golf lover: In an interview with ESPNCricinfo, Philander revealed on how he spends his time after cricket and he said by playing golf most of time. “I’ll be on the golf course most of the time. That’s where I like to go. The golf course or a wildlife park,” added Philander.

9. Controversy over his inclusion in the team in World Cup 2015 semi-final: South Africa were playing the semi-final of ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 against New Zealand and Philander was suddenly back in the side after being injured in the rest of the tournament. Hewas selected ahead of Kyle Abbott, who had a good outing against Sri Lanka in the quarter-final. Philander had not played a single game in that tournament. He bowled eight overs in that match and concede 52 runs without a wicket. ALSO READ: When Vernon Philander’s dream-spell routed New Zealand

Later, it was said that Philander was called in the team as board members insisted, which was against the wish of both coach and captain but further everything was denied by their board president Chris Nenzani. The initial reports said that Philander’s inclusion was to ensure South Africa fielded four coloured players.

10. His Idols: Philander in his childhood wanted to be a complete cricketer. Be it batting, bowling, fielding or even wicket-keeping. When he was a kid, he wanted to bat like Jacques Kallis, bowl like Allan Donald, field like Herschelle Gibbs and keep like Adam Gilchrist. He called them as his inspiration.

11. His advice to young fast bowlers: Once Philander was asked what would you like to advice to young fast bowlers, he said, “I’d say to the young guns out there: try and enhance your skills to a level in which you understand them. Once you understand your action and once you understand what you are trying to do with the ball, you can showcase it to the world. Go out there and put in the hard yards.”

12. Charity: It is not known when but yes, he runs a charity called the Vernon Philander foundation. He also hosts blanket drive every winter.

(Abhishek Kumar is a cricket devotee currently staffing with Criclife.com. He can be followed on Twitter @abhik2593 and on Facebook at abhicricket.kumar)