STUMPS | Vernon Philander puts on a show in Centurion
England stage a fight back, SA looking to stretch lead after day two
Premier South African fast bowler Vernon Philander is not intending to leave the international scene quietly.
The retiring South African pace bowling stalwart produced a controlled performance with figures of 4/16 as the Proteas bowled out England for 181 after 54 overs after lunch on day two of the Boxing Day Test in Centurion on Friday.
Largely due to Philander’s immense contribution, South Africa were 72/4 at stumps on Friday with a good lead of 175 runs, having Rassie van der Dussen (17) and Anrich Nortje (4) on the crease and their fate in their own hands here at SuperSport Park.
To make the performance of the 34-year-old Philander more commendable, his spell of 14.2 overs included eight maidens as he dished out an exhibition of consistent bowling accuracy with his tight lines and lengths.
Even more, his first five overs during the dominant morning session, where he was almost unplayable with front-line partner Kagiso Rabada, came without conceding a single run and he conceded his first boundary after 64 balls.
He was ably supported by the furious pace of Radaba, who took three wickets, and Nortje, who took two. Dwaine Pretorius got the breakthrough with one of his own as South Africa ripped through the crumbling England batting order.
The other important role player for the Proteas was Quinton de Kock, who claimed six catches behind the stumps.
The exploits of Philander and Rabada with the ball throughout the day made it difficult for England batsmen to cope. Their highest scorer was Joe Denly (50) with Ben Stokes behind him with his knock of 35.
Skipper Joe Root contributed 29 runs, Sam Curran (20) and Jos Buttler (12) while the rest of the batsmen failed to reach double figures in what was a poor day in the office.
The only notable partnership for England was 72 runs between Denly and Stokes in what was an extraordinary day for bowlers as 15 wickets fell on the day for fast bowlers.
The fast bowlers did a good job but the Proteas top order left a lot to be desired as they lost four wickets in quick succession during the third session to give England a sniff.
The fist wicket to fall was Aiden Markram (2) when he was trapped in front by James Anderson. Markram was followed by Zubayr Hamza (4) from the bowling of Stuart Broad and Dean Elgar (22) was the victim of Jofra Archer.
Then in the closing stages, Faf du Plessis (20) gave away his wicket when he was caught by Curran at long leg from the bowling of Archer.
Van der Dussen and night watchman Nortje will continue on day three but importantly South Africa still have capable De Kock, Pretorius, Philander, Keshav Maharaj and the rest of the tail in the bank.