C365 Player of the week: Philander

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Vernon 'Big Vern' Philander's efforts in the third and final Test against England at Lord's were out of the top drawer, both with bat and ball, which earned him the Man of the Match award.

Vernon 'Big Vern' Philander's efforts in the third and final Test against England at Lord's were out of the top drawer, both with bat and ball, which earned him the Man of the Match award as the Proteas celebrated going top of the rankings.

More importantly, his performance also earned him our Player of the Week accolade which, as we all know, is the reason these guys train for hours, strap on the pads, and fling themselves around a lawn for days on end.

'Fillinder', as our good mate and commentator Shaun Pollock was wont to call him, rescued the Proteas when they looked like wilting on more than one occasion at HQ. Vern has always considered himself to be an all-rounder, and no-one outside of South Africa's domestic scene knew why until this weekend.

South Africa were in dire straits on 163 for three in the first innings when he arrived in the middle, and 309 all out when he finally departed for 61, his maiden Test fifty.

His best partnership was with JP Duminy for the seventh wicket, as the final two recognised batsmen, put on 72 runs in 23 overs to steady the innings.

He again came to the Proteas rescue in the second knock, scoring a valuable 35, combining for 54 runs with Duminy again to steer the side past a lead of 300. So, let's give JP an honourable mention because their partnerships pushed the total past what England were capable of chasing.

During this series, all and sundry bemoaned Vern's lack of five-fors and fireworks, but rarely did he let the side down with the ball – his average after Lord's still an astonishing 15.96, and he never went an innings without a scalp.

While he didn't take more than two wickets in the first five innings of the series, the sixth more than made up for it as he bagged five. He started the rot on the evening of day four, removing Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook, both plumb in front, to leave England on 16 for two overnight.

The next day, while England's middle order tried their damnedest to chase a record total and smashed the bowlers around the Home of Cricket, Philander still went at two runs an over. Then, with the new ball in hand, he got rid of Matt Prior, who could likely have scored the runs required if he'd stayed in.

Steve Finn was dismissed next ball to end the match, the number 11 unable to deal with Philander's pace and accuracy, neither of which had waned during the entire series, even as Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel took the wickets.

Vern top-and-tailed England to chuck them off the top of the Test ranking mountain, and dragged his side to the summit in a match they threatened to lose.

<b>Lindsay du Plessis</b>

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