CAPE TOWN – There is a reason Vernon Philander’s nickname is “The Pro”.
On Tuesday, the Proteas all-rounder showed all the qualities that makes him such a revered figure. And the best part of it all, it wasn’t even with the ball.
With Table Mountain not visible due to heavy cloud cover, constant drizzle around, Philander walked to the crease with the Cape Cobras hovering at 65/5 – trailing the Dolphins by 160 runs at Newlands.
The situation required the Cobras’ most senior player to show off not only his skill and technique, but also the temperament required in such pressure situations.
And that’s exactly what the 33-year-old did.
Along with the ultra-disciplined Pieter Malan (153), the pair shared a match-turning 228-run partnership that allowed the Cobras to close the day on 337/8 – a complete turnaround that sees the home team now in the favourable position of a 92-run lead.
“I think they (Cobras) have had a fantastic run, and for me, it is just to step in and get them back to their daily grind.
“This innings would have taught them a good lesson too, being 45/4, and I think it showed them the temperament and patience required.
“I think there were lots of things to be learnt, and it was nice to come back and make a difference, whether it was big or small,” Philander said of his 104 (13x4).
“There was also the scoreboard pressure, and it is always difficult to bat when there are clouds hanging over at Newlands.
WATCH: The @CobrasCricket players are out of their seats now to applaud Vernon Philander's maiden franchise century!! Proper knock from "The Pro!" @IOLsport @OfficialCSA #4DaySeries #COBvDOL pic.twitter.com/0k1VYqOfas
“It was very difficult, and Pieter and I had to fight through that initial period. All hats off to him as well for the knock he played.
“It was really tough. I’m just grateful to get a 100 in these circumstances.”
Malan’s knock can certainly not be taken for granted either. The Cobras opener is fast becoming “Mr Dependable” for his team, and Tuesday’s marathon effort was once again a supreme display of patience.
The eldest Malan brother was at the crease for 426 minutes – seven hours and six minutes – and faced 296 balls.
It was a herculean effort, especially with Malan being at the other end for all five earlier dismissals.
“I want to be a guy that stands up when the team is under pressure. So, it was pleasing. These are the types of knocks that I enjoy where you have to work really hard for it,” Malan told Independent Media.
“The Vern is a great guy to spend time with. He is a really confident guy. It was all about biting into the lead.
“We were sitting there last night, and talked about how we going to get out of the position of being 45/4, so I feel this side is all about working hard to win games.”