(Lee Warren/Gallo Images)
- Retired Proteas seam bowler Vernon Philander said the youthful Proteas attack must seize the opportunity to play Test cricket.
- The 35-year-old admitted to missing being out in the middle playing but is enjoying life in the commentary booth.
- Sri Lanka dominated Day 1 after finishing on 340/6 at stumps, during the first Test in Centurion.
Retired Proteas seam bowler Vernon Philander offered some pearls of wisdom to the youthful looking South African attack doing battle against Sri Lanka in the first Test at Centurion.
Captain Quinton de Kock is without injured star opening bowler Kagiso Rabada, which meant Lungi Ngidi had to open the bowling with debutant Lutho Sipamla at the other end at SuperSport Park.
The Proteas attack struggled somewhat in the south Pretoria heat as a courageous Sri Lankan top order took the fight to the hosts early.
The visitors were 340/6 at stumps on Day 1 after Dinesh Chandimal (85), Dhananjaya de Silva (79, retired hurt) and Niroshan Dickwella (49) put Sri Lanka in a comfortable position.
Sipamla (1/68) took some stick in the first session but recovered to take his maiden Test scalp late on when Wanindu Hasaranga chopped his delivery onto his stumps.
Ngidi (1/54) beat the bat numerous times, especially with the second new ball, while Wiaan Mulder, playing in his second Test, was the pick of the bunch with 3/68.
“Yes, it’s a young bowling attack,” said Philander.
“But to me it should create an expectancy of an opportunity. It’s an opportunity for you to make a name for yourself.
“We may have lost some great fast bowlers. [But] I remember when we played a couple of Tests without Dale Steyn and we had young guys that we needed to drag along.
“I’d like them to see that opportunity rather than questioning where they start or how they could find their feet.
“The will to do well is something that I always speak about and they need to find that will within themselves to break the game open or make a change.
“They’re without experience but we can’t dwell on that and we can’t use that as an excuse.”
AS IT HAPPENED | SA vs Sri Lanka – 1st Test, Day 1
Philander, 35, admitted to missing being out in the middle, especially seeing South Africa struggle after lunch in near-30 degree heat.
He said he was enjoying his new incarnation in the commentary booth since hanging his spikes but wished to contribute more to the game by transferring his skills to the new generation of seamers.
“I can’t lie, I obviously miss the game, especially when you watch how things went on the first day,” said Philander.
“I wasn’t expecting this year to turn out the way it did but I made the decision [to retire].
“Covid put a spanner in the works but it gave me a bit more time with the family and to put perspective on life.
“I enjoyed that time away from the game. And it’s always good to give back. Hopefully it will be a lot more than just commentary work.
“You can see these guys need guidance and you can’t just expect one guy, Charl Langeveldt, to do it.
“You need a system of good mentors and coaches to make sure, when guys get to this level (Test), they’re ready to go.
“We need to start implementing the right stuff at franchise level. There’s a lot of ex-players we could utilise to do that sort of work.”