SA’s bowling looks healthy

2011-12-22 00:00

IT wasn’t long ago that there were concerns as to where the back-up bowlers for Dale Steyn and Morné Morkel were going to come from.

With injuries to promising Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Wayne Parnell, the Protea’s lack of bowling depth was a worry.

Enter Vernon Philander whose record-breaking step onto the international Test stage has been nothing short of inspirational. His sublime Test cricket start is just reward for his consistent success with the Cape Cobras franchise and the hard yards he has put in.

But it hasn’t been an easy road for the “Pro”. Philander first represented South Africa as an ODI bowler in 2007. At 22 years of age he was wet behind the ears and more than a little out of his depth.

After playing seven ODIs he was dropped from the South African ODI squad which was to prove a massive knock to his confidence. To his credit Philander picked himself up and never gave up. He spent hours in the nets and bowled hundreds of overs in domestic cricket.

After the high of international one-day cricket Philander went back and served his apprenticeship with the Cobras admirably, earning the respect of his peers and a Test call-up for the series against Australia.

It was a selection master stroke by Andrew Hudson and coach Gary Kirsten and showed how the selection system should work. In the past players like Philander have been selected before they are ready and have been pushed into positions prematurely.

At the age of 26 and after seasons of franchise cricket, Philander is ripe for Test cricket. He has matured into a formidable seam bowler and a fine all-rounder .

I feel Lonwabo Tsotsobe would benefit hugely from playing more cricket for the Warriors. Admittedly he has struggled with injury, but this type of experience is invaluable.

Tsotsobe had an unhappy time with English county side Essex this season, taking just five wickets in three games. He had to endure the humiliation of being demoted to the second team and having his contract terminated prematurely.

As a talented left-handed seamer Tsotosobe has much to offer the Proteas and plenty of potential.

Wayne Parnell, who seems to have put his injury worries behind him, is bowling more and more for the Warriors which is encouraging.

Playing domestic cricket is far better for him than sitting on the bench or carrying the drinks for the Proteas.

Titan’s paceman Marchant de Lange is another very exciting talent who has impressive natural pace and the ability to swing the ball at 150 km/h.

Tsotsobe has been included in the Test squad for the second Test against Sri Lanka at Kingsmead starting on Boxing Day, which will make the selection of the final 11 interesting.

Morkel will want to regain his rhythm and Philander will be hoping to continue his rich vein of form.

With plenty of options available to Allan Donald and Gary Kirsten and pressure on for places, South Africa’s bowling department is looking healthier than ever.

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