Cape Town - Proteas fast bowler Vernon Philander is looking forward to his first taste of international action in eight months when he plays for South Africa 'A' against Zimbabwe 'A' in Harare in the four-day series starting on Saturday.
The 31-year-old has been sidelined since November with an ankle problem, one that cut short his participation during the year-end tour to India and forced him to miss the subsequent series against England.
He has since made three first-class appearances for Western Province and the Cape Cobras at the back end of last season taking 10 wickets in the process.
Now Philander will hope that the latest opportunities are the final part of his recovery before South Africa’s next Test assignment against New Zealand at home starting next month.
"The body’s feeling real good," he said.
"I’ve obviously been out for quite a few months.
"I never quite knew the severity of the injury until a couple of months after and it’s been coming and going, but these last few weeks it’s really been holding up. I'm just looking forward to getting out there and playing cricket again."
The right-arm seamer had become an integral part of the Proteas’ Test attack prior to his injury.
He has an outstanding record for his country with 126 wickets in just 32 Tests at an average of 22.08.
The SA 'A' team play neighbours Zimbabwe A in twin four-day Tests from 9-18 July, before two more four-day Tests in Australia at the end of July and in early August.
Philander is part of both squads and will be keen to impress on the selectors that he is ready to face the New Zealanders.
Not only will Philander be hoping to prove his own fitness, but he will also be looking to nurture some of the other seamers in the squad – the likes of Sisanda Magala, Duanne Olivier, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius and Hardus Viljoen.
"As much as it’s about me getting back, it’s also about me sharing my knowledge with these younger guys out here," he added.
"I'm certainly looking forward to the first trip to Zimbabwe and the Australian one straight afterwards.
"As long as I can help the younger ones coming through, I think I’ll be playing my part in South African cricket."