Sat, 29 Feb 2020

Cape Town - Vernon Philander is about to step out in his final game for his country and according to his former captain Graeme Smith, South African cricket must keep him in the system.

The Proteas are 2-1 down leading up to the fourth Test against England at the Wanderers, starting on Friday and Philander will walk out in his 64th and final Test match after a 13-year international career.

The 34-year-old has played 63 Tests, 30 ODIs and 7 T20Is but it's in red-ball cricket where Philander has excelled.

After making his Test debut in 2011, it took him just seven games to reach 50 wickets - becoming the second fastest bowler to do so.

In his swansong series, Philander has not fired on all cylinders with six scalps to his name to date but the Wanderers should present a pitch that will be to his liking.

Speaking ahead of his final Test, former Proteas captain and Cricket South Africa's (CSA) interim Director of Cricket, Smith paid tribute to Philander.

"Under my captaincy, Vern was the last cog in the wheel. He was an incredible guy that came in our bowling attack," Smith told reporters.

"Being able to be effective with the new ball and get us into games, we always knew Vern was going to be reliable and would give us what we needed. One thing that always gets a miss about him, is that he is a fantastic competitor.

"An element of that needs to come back into our national side: how guys front under pressure, perform when needed. He was outstanding. What he has produced in the Test format for us - his records speak for itself - and certainly he can be proud," said Smith.

Shortly after announcing his retirement, Philander also confirmed that he would be joining English county Somerset as a Kolpak player.

Smith stated that so many of South Africa's former greats have been lost in CSA's system and believes that this knowledge needs to pass on to others and it starts with Philander.

"The conversation is now, how we do we keep him (Philander) in the system, because his knowledge of bowling and skill is something we cannot afford to lose," said Smith.

"I think as Cricket South Africa, we lose to much IP (intellectual property). Even post my 11-years of captaincy, no one sat down said, 'What did you learn?' It's an area we're not very good at.

"So we've got to try and keep all this knowledge of international cricket and quality players hopefully help and develop the next eras," ended Smith.

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