His six-wicket haul against New Zealand in March took Proteas pace-man Vernon Philander past his half-century of Test wickets. It was just his seventh match, making him the fastest bowler in well over a century (and joint second-fastest ever) to reach this milestone. Philander’s journey began with street cricket in Ravensmead, Cape Town. The gifted all-rounder muscled his way to South Africa under 19s, but a stint for the Proteas one-day side in 2007 failed to impress. His deadly form for provincial side the Cape Cobras earned the “Ravensmead Wrecker” a call-up to the national Test side late last year. The powerful 26-year-old calls his debut, with eight wickets against Australia at his home ground of Newlands, the highlight of his career. Following his recent stint with county side Somerset, much will be expected from Philander’s unyielding accuracy and late swing when the Proteas tour England later this year.
— Ian Macleod