Philander says SA won't 'get in a Faf' over absentees

Vernon Philander (Getty)
Vernon Philander (Getty)

London - Vernon Philander believes South Africa have the resources to cope without two senior batsmen when the first Test against England starts at Lord's on Thursday.

Proteas captain Faf du Plessis will miss the match as he spends time at home with his wife after the birth of the couple's first child.

Meanwhile former skipper AB de Villiers, one of the world's leading batsmen, has decided to opt out of the four-Test series completely as he considers his international future.

It now falls to opener Dean Elgar to skipper South Africa for the first time but Proteas paceman Philander was in upbeat mood as he contemplated another Test at Lord's after his second-innings five for 30 at the 'home of cricket' five years ago played a key role in a 51-run win that sealed a 2-0 series victory.

"We've lost players in the past, and guys have stepped up," Philander told reporters at Lord's on Tuesday.

"It's an opportunity for someone else to step up and make a name for himself," added the 32-year-old, who has had stints with six English counties, including a spell this season with Sussex. "That's the way we always see it."

De Villiers has not played Test cricket since January last year and Philander said: "We've made adjustments in order to move on.

"I think that's a personal decision. It's entirely up to him what he wants to play.

"We're a settled unit now. The boys have obviously done well over the last 12 months," insisted Philander of a Proteas team that have risen to second in the world Test rankings.

"Our focus is not on one particular player. Our focus is on the team."

As for Elgar, Philander said: "He's got a job to do. I hope he'll get a win under his belt.

"We'll probably make his job as easy as possible."

Meanwhile Philander insisted he was fully fit after suffering an ankle injury playing for Sussex.

"I'm ready to go. It's holding up nicely so far so, touch wood ... it'll last the five days."

The infamous Lord's slope can prove a problem for visiting bowlers but the experience of Philander and Morne Morkel should prove useful to rising star Kagiso Rabada, the third member of a talented pace attack missing injured fast bowler Dale Steyn.

"It could play on your mind if you're not used to it," said Philander of the slope.

"I always find it's a wicket-taking option, especially when it gets flat here -- you can use the slope to run it back in, even more so when there's a bit of movement.

"It's a matter of getting used to it."

The 22-year-old Rabada has already taken 71 wickets in his 17 Tests to date and Philander said: "He's a phenomenal talent. Every time he gets the ball in his hand he seems to want to run in faster, bowl faster and get wickets.

"He's got that never-say-die attitude about him, which is always exciting to have."

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