Philander, a former world No 1 Test bowler and also the second fastest this century to 50 Test wickets, had to suffer the indignity of being reduced to a “quota” player by various sceptics questioning his selection ahead of Kyle Abbott for the Cup semi-final in Auckland.
Philander needed time away from the glare of the South African public and sought solace on the English countryside with Nottinghamshire for a couple of weeks playing in the County Championship.
The stint at Trent Bridge, which went fairly well on the pitch too, seems to have invigorated the Proteas all-rounder. This was evidenced by the smile on his face while playing with the children at Excelsior Secondary School in Belhar as part of KFC’s “Join the Proteas Family” activation.
“It’s been a tough couple of months after the World Cup, I needed to get the mind away from the game, but I’m feeling really refreshed. I am pretty happy with where I am at now,” Philander told Independent Media.
“It was tough mentally, not physically – but the mental component especially.
“I don’t pay much attention to what the media has to say most times, but you have family and friends who call you up and tell what this one has said, or that one has written, so they kind of remind me more than anyone else (laughs).
“As far as I am concerned, we lost a game of cricket, and within that game you can pin-point areas where we may have lost it.
“You can’t blame one particular person. We lost the match as a team.
“Obviously, when the team loses, lots of questions are going to be asked. We went over there to win the World Cup and we had a pretty good chance of doing so, and it could easy have gone the other way.”
South Africa’s top cricket brass have decided to give Philander, along with another under-achiever at the World Cup in Dale Steyn, further time to re-energise their batteries by not considering the duo for the limited-overs leg of the upcoming tour to Bangladesh.
Philander and Steyn will only join the Proteas for the two-match Test series set to be played in Chittagong and Dhaka.
“When you’re a top player playing professional sport, there are always expectations. So, when you don’t put performances on the board there is criticism. That is to be expected, but you accept it and move on because you’re always trying to be the best that you possibly can be,” said Philander.
“I also think Cricket South Africa and (coach) Russell (Domingo) probably want to explore the younger guys to see what we have in the tank.
“I am still available for all formats, obviously if selected, but at the same time we do have a big Test season ahead and I’m really looking forward to that.
“We have to prepare for that, and first up we have Bangladesh in Bangladesh, and that’s not going to be easy especially in terms of the conditions.”
It certainly is a big season for the Proteas Test team and Philander.
Following Bangladesh, South Africa return to the sub-continent for a four-match series against India that will certainly prove to be more than an appetiser for the much-anticipated clash with England during the home summer.
A close eye will kept on Philander, especially on the sub-continent, as there are many who believe that South Africa’s Test opening bowler is only productive on the seaming, green-tinged tracks of home.
“Let’s be honest with ourselves here, bowling on the sub-continent is tough. It is hard work,” he said.
“But I enjoy a challenge and I think I’ve performed my role in Sri Lanka and against Pakistan before.
“We’re all part of a bowling unit. It has been great to bowl with Dale and Morné (Morkel) over the past four years. Everyone supports each other and we all have one aim: to take 20 wickets.
“That’s all we want to do.
“Who finishes up with the most is irrelevant – as long as we claim those 20 wickets.”‘Happy and refreshed’ fast bowler Vernon Philander is eager to play in coming Tests.
Original source: Vernon primed for action