Visakhapatnam: South Africa's most experienced pacer Vernon Philander is enjoying being a mentor in the twilight of his career and wants more of his contemporaries to give back to the game instead of looking for greener pastures.
Philander was an important part of the Proteas pace troika comprising Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, both of whom have retired from longer formats.
Morkel in fact is among the list of South African cricketers, who have moved to the England to play county cricket professionally. On the rise of the Indian team, Philander said its fast bowling has come a long way under Virat Kohli's captaincy.
"They have learnt a lot. They have moulded a fast bowling unit to suit all conditions. They have come a long way indeed. Bumrah has set the world alight in the last 24 months."
"Dale and Morne have been champion bowlers. I am the last one of the so called pack but the new talent that has come through and it excites me. KG (Rabada) has been doing well so far. The bowling depth in South Africa is still pretty good and it is my role to guide the new guys coming through," Philander, who has a remarkable average of 21.64 in 58 Tests, told PTI in an exclusive interview.
South Africa are not the force they used to be across formats and retirements of seniors like AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla have also left a big void in the dressing room. "I would not say we are a weaker team now. There has been a lot of guys coming through and lot of guys knocks on the doors.
"There comes a time in all our careers that you have to do what is best for you personally. You have to respect those decisions but I think the system is still producing quality players," said Philander, who has taken 214 wickets in his Test career so far. But rather than choosing the security of county cricket or the glitz of T20 leagues, Philander urged the seniors to "give back to the game".
"However, I would like to see more senior players giving back to the game after retirement. It is easier to find greener pastures but the team needs experienced hands at the moment. Personally, I too have a big role to play in mentoring the youngsters and I am enjoying it," Philander said. For someone who has been lethal in home conditions, Philander finds it a tad unfair that he is termed as a "green track bully".