Smith likens sensational Philander to McGrath as he beckons new 'milestone'

Wellington, Mar 19(ANI): South Africa captain Graeme Smith has equated new swing sensation Vernon Philander to legendary Australian fast bowler Glenn McGrath, as he is on the verge of reaching a cricketing milestone that has not been achieved in 116 years.

Philander's ten wicket haul in Hamilton, topped by his career-best second innings figures of 6-44, further extended his astonishing Test numbers to 45 wickets at an average of 13.60, from six matches.

If Philander claims another five New Zealand scalps in the third test in Wellington, starting on Friday, he will become the second fastest bowler to reach a test half-century, after Australian Charlie Turner achieved this amazing feat in just six tests, set in 1888.

Just two modern day bowlers feature on that record list, Australians Rodney Hogg (1979) and Terry Alderman (1981), who each reached this brilliant feat in eight Test matches.

Smith has been so impressed by Philander, who replaced his strike partner Dale Steyn as World's number one bowler, that he likened him to legendary McGrath.

"He obviously gets the ball to talk. There's always something happening. He's always in that area," Stuff.co.nz quoted Smith, as saying.

"In my career, the only person who's sort of resembled that was maybe Glenn McGrath. He was always in that area of uncertainty, and there was always something happening with the ball. He asks a lot of questions. If it's swinging a bit both ways, then Vern's always going to be right in there," he added.

Smith believes that Philander can own the top spot in International Cricket Council's bowler rankings if he keeps bowling at the same level.

"If he keeps going the way he is, then he'll get there pretty soon," he said.

Philander made his debut in November, in Cape Town, when Australia was bowled out at 47.

In three of his six tests, he's walked away with the man-of-the-match gong, as he did in Hamilton on Saturday. (ANI)

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