Vernon Philander, mainstay of South Africa's seam attack in Test cricket since his debut in 2011, has announced his retirement from international cricket after the completion of the Test series between his team and England early next year.
Philander made his debut in November 2011 against Australia at Cape Town in the famous Test where Australia were dismissed for just 47 in their second innings after being 21/9. Philander himself picked up a five-for in that innings.
The right-arm pacer has played 60 Tests, 30 ODIs and 7 T20Is in his career. His Test victims number 216 at an average of 22.16 and strike rate of 49.9. Philander was always considered an expert in the longer format and hence never got to play much limited-overs cricket. Still his record in ODI cricket isn't bad.
The medium-pacer picked up 41 wickets at an average of 24.04 and strike rate of 31.1. However, the fullish length that Philander bowled in order to swing the ball was considered dangerous in other formats where the white ball doesn't swing and the pitches are flatter.
What made Philander a superstar was his incredible wicket-taking spree at the very start of his career. After getting a five-for in his debut Test, Philander became an incredibly prolific wicket-taker and was proceeding at a strike-rate and average that seemed to belong to another era.
However, midway through his career, the 34-year old entered a lean patch where he wasn't able to make much of an impact. However, he returned into great form during the home series against India at the start of 2018. At this moment in his career, Philander's average and strike rate is incredibly low and seems to belong to the era of 1980s than modern-day cricket which is dominated by batsmen.
What made Philander unique was also the fact that he was a medium pacer from a country known to produce genuinely fast and hostile pacers. But the lack of pace from Philander also meant that he struggled to make an impact in conditions that weren't seamer-friendly. His record in Asian conditions isn't very impressive – 16 wickets in 10 matches at the average of 38.06 and strike rate of 91.
Philander would clearly be remembered as a part of the great South African Test team which rose to become no. 1 in 2012 after defeating England in England – a feat in which The Vern himself played a key role. His nagging line and length and the ability to get the ball to deviate off the surface proved devastating. He was a great addition to a bowling attack comprising Dale Styen and Morne Morkel.