‘I’d like to see us lead the attack again’

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South Africa fast bowler Vernon Philander has put his ankle injury behind him, and says that he and Dale Steyn, who was also laid low by injuries, are ready to return the Proteas to the top of the game.

Philander was out for five months after tearing his ankle ligaments, nearly three times longer than expected, while Steyn had shoulder problems, but the paceman feels they are in a good place to join forces again, against New Zealand.

Philander said ahead of the second and deciding Test against the Kiwis, at Centurion: "We formed a good partnership over the last few years.

"For me, it's to get back to what I have been doing successfully, which is hitting the top of off with the odd bouncer, to create pressure from the other end with the consistency of bowling line and length.

"When you slip down the rankings, you are going to try and find what was the key reason. South Africa have played with a lot of new faces and the lack of experience is what I would put it down to.

"Dale and I bring a bit of experience to the fold. I'd like to see us lead the attack again."

Philander also said that he had been worried that his career was over, and had to work hard to get back into the Test side. He was happy to play club, provincial and A-side cricket to achieve that.

He said: "You always get a scare when this type of thing happens, especially with the time duration of it. I initially thought six weeks and I will be back on the park.

"Then I realised the extent of the injury and the rehab that I had to undergo. When you are not playing and not being part of the set-up, you start doubting when you will be back in that space.

"For me, it was to get over the mindset of wondering if the ankle is going to hold up. That's why I went (with the A team) to Zimbabwe and Australia.

"It held up pretty well so going into this Test match, I was pretty confident on it. I needed to play those couple of games to get that mental edge to be ready for this."

The series is level at nil all after the first Test was drawn, due to an unplayable outfield in Durban.

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