Vernon Philander has never been one to pass the buck, as his tireless work uplifting his community has shown, which is why he has decided to make a comeback to help not just Western Province but South African cricket as a whole.
The great seam bowler’s decision to come out of retirement is great news for Western Province, who will be built around a core of the struggling Cape Cobras side, minus key figures who will be playing for Boland like the Malan brothers, Janneman and Pieter.
But the presence of Philander, who took 224 Test wickets at just 22.32 before retiring in January last year, will also help raise the standard of the new-look domestic game and the 35-year-old said he is wanting to help players from all the teams and not just his own.
“Western Province will have a young squad and there is a big need for me to play a part there, considering I still probably have two or three years left in me and I still have the firepower to perform and do well,” Philander told The Citizen on Friday.
“But there is also not much experience around the country and I’m looking at the greater picture. We were fortunate to learn from older guys when we started out whether they were in our squad or not.
“So there’s a massive role to play in helping the future generations with those extra learnings; they can tap into our knowledge and hopefully stay calmer for longer.
“Hopefully I can help make sure they mature in the proper manner. Obviously I am still playing for trophies, but I want to encourage bowlers from other teams to speak to me so I can help South African cricket grow.”
While the jury is still out on whether the new domestic system will actually improve South African cricket, Philander said the quality of play locally definitely needed some attention.
“I’ve been having honest chats with a few people and it boils down to standards and whether we are okay with mediocre,” Philander said.
“I personally don’t think there’s any place for that, so my goal is ultimately to help the standard of cricket in this country by setting a good example. You want an atmosphere of enjoying what you do, but you also have a responsibility to perform.”
The new-look team based at Newlands is also likely to feature the returns of batting maestro Hashim Amla and Wayne Parnell, who at 31 years old is still very capable of bringing some all-round magic.