CAPE TOWN - Bowlers often deliver their greatest spells in partnerships. For Vernon Philander at Newlands, it is not the relationship with the bowler at the other end, but rather the curator Evan Flint.
Flint has been preparing wickets at Newlands for the duration of Philander’s Test career. And before that he was serving up pitches when Philander was still toiling away for the Cape Cobras.
It's certainly a complex relationship. Considering Flint is a proud artisan, which is backed up by the fact that he is currently Cricket South Africa Curator of the Year, he is not easily persuaded.
Philander, though, is a persistent individual and ultimately gets his way more often than not - like he and South Africa did in the first Test against India, which was played on a seaming surface throughout.
However, it is one thing being handed a beautifully baked cake, and another matter altogether consuming with the gumption that Philander and the SA seamers did on an intoxicating day four on Monday.
“I will give him (Flint) some of the Man-of-the-Match fee,” Philander joked after taking a career-best 6/42 and match haul of 9/75.
“(Newlands) is a wonderful place to play cricket. I don’t think it was (an) overly aggressive wicket. I think there were times when it was a bit flat. I felt there were times when batters could get in and score runs. But the theatre and atmosphere around Newlands was just amazing.”
Philander has certainly made the Wynberg End his own. But on Monday he showed his versatility, which was required due to Dale Steyn’s injury-enforced absence, in that he could still control the ball like a puppet master his string, from the opposing Kelvin Grove End.
It was from this end that Philander bagged India captain Virat Kohli that set in motion the Indian collapse.
“Bowling from the Kelvin Grove End is not unfamiliar, but it is a bit out of my territory because I love the other side. But there was obviously a bit of pace and it looked to be spotting a bit and I had to use it to my advantage,” Philander said.