South Africa seam and swing bowler Vernon Philander is out to show he is more than just an outstanding Test match bowler during the upcoming Limacol Caribbean Premier League (LCPL).
The 28 year-old’s red-ball credentials are outstanding with 89 wickets in 16 Tests, reaching 50 wickets in the longest form of the game in just his seventh match, the third fastest to the mark in the history of the game.
However, Philander has been overlooked by South Africa’s selectors for the most part for short-form cricket with only eight One-Day Internationals and seven Twenty20 Internationals under his belt. He hopes he can use the Limacol CPL, where he will line up for the Jamaica Tallawahs, as a way of putting himself forward for selection when the time comes to pick the Proteas’ limited-overs line-up in future.
“I have obviously not played a lot of white-ball cricket for South Africa,” he said. “This tournament is a chance for me to step up in the shortest form of the game and I am pretty excited about it.
“I back myself in the shorter formats and want the opportunity at international level so if I can put my name on the board then that is what I want to do.”
First and foremost though, Philander will have to adapt to Caribbean conditions which are not always regarded as wholly conducive to swing and seam bowlers of his type.
“The conditions will pose challenges and as I have not played in the West Indies before that is something I will have to get used to,” he said. “It will be a case of getting used to the decks and bowling up front as quickly as possible.
Philander is currently playing with Kent Country Cricket Club.
“I know the (Tallawahs) squad is linking up this week but I have got some more commitments with Kent and will not arrive until around the 29th (of July) but the good thing is I am playing matches for Kent, including plenty of Twenty20 games, and there is no better practice than playing out in the middle.”
With his aim to play for South Africa in the shorter forms of the game, Philander could be forgiven for having one eye on next year’s ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh, the next global event on the calendar.
But he is happy to take one step at a time, starting with trying to impress in the Caribbean.
“I am not looking as far ahead as that (ICC) World Twenty20,” he said. “Obviously I would love to play in it but my first priority has to be to do well in the LCPL. “If I can do that, make my mark and make a name for myself then I will be in a much better position for selection but the LCPL is the first thing to get right.”
The Tallawahs get their campaign underway with a clash against the Guyana Amazon Warriors at Providence Stadium on 2 August and are stocked with a host of top players including not only Chris Gayle but also fellow West Indies stars Andre Russell and Ravi Rampaul, and Sri Lanka’s spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan. How does Philander rate their chances?
“Like any bowler, I am relieved to be on Chris’s team rather than up against him,” he said. “He will pose a real danger to any opposition side but we will have our challenges too. It will be up to us to win a couple of games early on and if we can do that then who knows how far we can go.”
The inaugural Limacol Caribbean Premier League starts on 30 July in Barbados and concludes on 24 August in Trinidad.