Vernon Philander marked his return to South Africa’s One-Day International (ODI) side with a solid performance in Wednesday’s 20-run win against New Zealand at SuperSport Park in Centurion. Philander was rested for the series against Bangladesh last month, and says he is refreshed and motivated ahead of a busy international season: ‘I’m excited. It’s a big year coming up for us as a team starting with this series against New Zealand. We like to win series’ at home and away but I think India and England are going to be big later on in the year. As a squad we are excited about it; it’s another big challenge going to India and playing England at home.’
The Proteas’ player management strategy seems to be yielding positive results as seen by the strong performances of Philander, Dale Steyn and Imran Tahir after breaks from their respective formats. Philander and Steyn started off the innings brilliantly with control and intensity while Tahir worked his magic in the middle overs to stave off the Black Caps’ onslaught. This was Philander’s first ODI since the ICC Cricket World Cup semi-final against New Zealand in March, and the first time he has played under the new ODI rules implemented in June.
The South Africa have been on target with some of the execution of their death bowling tactics during the current series against New Zealand, with the new rules giving the bowlers freedom to ‘mix it up more’ says Philander: ‘The extra fielder out helps massively. It gives you more options in the backend; you can bowl your slower-ball bouncer or the hard bouncer because you have the extra guy out. It’s a lot more difficult for the batsman to line up certain shots because of that extra fielder. You can plan a legside or an offside field and execute what you have been training.’