Philander hunts Steyn's record

Vernon Philander (Gallo Images)
Vernon Philander (Gallo Images)
Cape Town – Yet another five-wicket haul by the Proteas’ Vernon Philander on Friday – his ninth in his 15th Test, and third at Newlands – only increases the likelihood that he will eclipse team-mate Dale Steyn’s record as fastest South African bowler to 100 scalps.

The lethal seamer added three wickets on day two of the second Test against Pakistan to his tally of two the previous day, making for innings figures of five for 59 in 26 overs as the tourists were bowled out for a competitive first-knock total of 338 by lunch.

His home venue is also fast becoming a favourite hunting ground: Philander has snared as many as 26 wickets in just three and a half Tests since making his debut there in the eventful fixture against Australia last season.

On that occasion, of course, he claimed five for 15 in the Baggy Greens’ disastrous second innings of 47 all out.

The 27-year-old’s Test bowling average at the ground currently stands at a quite sublime 12.30, and even in his least successful game at Newlands from a wicket-taking point of view thus far, against Sri Lanka in 2011/12, he bundled out six batsmen across the two knocks (three each time).

Philander has thus stretched his overall bundle of wickets to 83 at an average of 17.14 in his 15th Test appearance for the world’s No 1-ranked side – it is a fair bit better than his first-class bowling average of 19.92.

He seems right on course to better Steyn’s landmark: the Phalaborwa Express got to his first 100 Test wickets in his 20th appearance, against Bangladesh at Chittagong in February 2008.

The list of fastest bowlers of all time to reach the “ton-up” mark is dominated by players who plied their trade in the late 1800s, when pitch conditions were vastly different: it is headed by George Lohmann of England, who got to 100 scalps in his 16th Test – against South Africa at Johannesburg in March 1896.

Of currently active Test cricketers, Pakistan’s off-spinner Saeed Ajmal (playing in the ongoing Newlands Test) is fastest to 100 wickets: he got there in his 19th Test, against England at Abu Dhabi in January 2012.

So Philander is a real threat to his position, too ...

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing
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