Vernon Philander is prepared to stretch himself to the fullest to make up for Dale Steyn’s absence from South Africa’s attack for the rest of the Perth Test © AFP
Vernon Philander‘s parting words to his new-ball partner Dale Steyn were a promise: that Philander would do everything in his power to try and finish the job Steyn started and return home with a series win. Steyn will play no further part in the Tests after fracturing his right shoulder and Philander has taken it on himself to lead the pack.
“Losing big players leaves a big gap but there’s always an opportunity for someone else to step up,” Philander said. “In this game KG [Kagiso Rabada] and myself will have to step up. That serves as motivation for us to step up and deliver. Dale’s done it for a long time and we owe it to him.”
So far, Philander has followed through. He took four for 56 in an exceptional second-day spell in which he found subtle seam movement and admitted he knew it would be up to him to ensure Australia did not get too far away. “Dale’s been the leader of this attack for a very long time and it’s sad to see him go down like that. We had a job to do and that was to get the Aussies out as cheaply as possible, and it was a job well done by the rest of the bowlers,” Philander said. “It’s a responsibility that will be well taken by the rest of the team and the squad. We want to win this game for Dale as well.”
Steyn made one mark on the match though – and it may yet to prove to be the most important – when he had David Warner caught at slip on 97 and sparked the Australian collapse. Although Warner may be secretly pleased he does not have to see Steyn for the rest of the series, he will miss the contest. “I am disappointed for Dale. After all the amp and the talk before the series, I know how pumped he would have been to play a big role. It is disappointing for him,” Warner said. “I hope he can get back on the park and play the competitive cricket that we’ve seen him play.”
Warner remains wary of a South African attack that has already shown it can bowl Australia out sans Steyn and despite depleted resources. He mentioned less than 300 as a target the Australians think might give them a chance but cautioned against getting too excited by South Africa being a man down.
“We have to respect each individual. There are two very good fast bowlers there and we’ve seen the wickets they can take,” Warner said. “We can’t look too far ahead. In this match, we still have to bowl well and then bat again but we know know that if we get through that first period with the new ball, they will have to revert to spin.”
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.