New Delhi: Legendary Australia batsman Ricky Ponting has revealed the toughest bowler he has ever faced, and you will be surprised to know that his 'worthy opponent' is not a Shoaib Akhtar or Muttiah Muralitharan, or any other popular great one would assumed.
He is Vernon Philander. Yes, the South African pacer who just rocked Australia with a spell of 5/21 in the first innings of the second Test at Hobart.
Ponting, regarded as one of the greatest batsman ever, felt that the 31-year-old is almost unplayable in conditions which provide assistance to seam bowling.
"He is probably the hardest I faced in world cricket with those type of conditions because you don't get any visual clues with the swinging ball," the former Aussie captain told BT Sport.
In the Hobart Test, Philander exploited the conditions to the hilt, moving the ball both ways with exceptional control, and the result, a fifer.
"Most other guys when there's movement, the ball actually swings in the air first and you have some sort of idea of which way the ball is going to go," Ponting continued.
Philander, who is still the second-fastest bowler ever in Test history to take 50 wickets, made his debut against an Aussie side which had Ponting in it.
In that 2011 Cape Town Test, Philander took eight wickets, including a fifer, his first, thus winning the Man of the Match award. He was impressive enough to win the Man of the Series award too, after an equally impressive showing in the subsequent match. It was indeed ominous signs for batsmen.
"He doesn't swing the ball at all. It comes out of his hand dead straight and he doesn't know which way it's going to go off the pitch either... So you sort of end up trying to find and feel ... for which way the ball is going to go," Ponting, who himself became a victim to Philander in that series tried to explain about the pacer's ability.
Talking about Philander's performance in Hobart, Ponting simply said that he is "just a class act when the ball is seaming".
"We saw a couple of replays today; the release was exactly the same on two balls in a row, they landed in almost exactly the same spot, one seamed away and the other one seamed in... He's just a class act when the ball is seaming," Ponting added.
Philander has so far taken 140 Test wickets, including those five he has snared in the first innings, in 35 matches. He has nine five-wicket hauls, and two 10-wicket hauls in a match too.