Why Philander is so good

Written by kobus. Posted in Cricket

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Published on January 09, 2012 with No Comments

I must admit, I was a bit sceptical with all the success of Philander since he arrived in Test cricket. I thought maybe it was because he played on pitches that favoured pace bowling. Which  led me to believe it was a case of being at the right place at the right time.

But after the 3rd test against Sri Lanka I was blown away by his quality of bowling. He showed me that he has the potential to be the greatest opening test bowler in the world and that he has an excellent future ahead of him. If he keeps this up, he definitely has the potential of the likes of Shaun Pollock or Glen McGrath.

You are probably thinking those are quite bold statements just mentioned. For those of you who have read my posts before will know that I very rarely make statements without backing them up with facts. This will be no exception.

The pitch map below shows Philander’s bowling against Sri Lanka’s right hand batsmen in their 1st innings in the 3rd test. To put it in simple terms, this map shows where the ball bounced. See how they are grouped together. That my fellow readers, is exactly where an opening test bowler should bowl. Compare it with the great Dale Steyn and see the difference.


Pitch Map of Philander against right handers of SL in 3rd test 1st innings


Pitch Map of Steyn against right handers of SL in 3rd test 1st innings

If you hear the SuperSport commentators talk about the bowler should bowl the correct “line and length”, this is what what they are talking about.  The length is at such a point that it creates doubt for the batsmen about whether he should use the front foot or back foot to hit the ball. And length is at such a position that it could essentially move in 3 directions after bouncing. It could go straight, move away from the batsmen, or move back in towards the off stump. This creates even more doubt for the batsmen because he must decide whether he must actually try to hit it, or leave it. The batsmen is bound to make a mistake because he has so many decisions he has to make in such a short time. Another popular statemtent is “the bowler should make the batsmen play the ball”. This also applies here. Especially if the ball is swinging away from the batsmen.


This is a clear indication to me that Philander is being groomed by Donald to be a great bowler and Donald is doing a great job so far. There is one thing Philander needs which will definitely make him one of the best in the world, and that is reverse swing ( ball swings towards the right hander with the older  ball instead of away from the right hander with new ball ). But not many bowlers currently have that ability. James Anderson from England and Zaheer Khan from India come to mind. I have seen Dale Steyn do it but not recently and not consistently.But as we have seen in the series against Sri Lanka and Australia, Philander seems to be doing just fine without reverse swing.


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