Nottinghamshire elected to go with pace when recruiting their overseas professional for 2015 and signed two established Test players to share the role. South African Vernon Philander was signed for the first months of the season, with Australian Ben Hilfenhaus taking over from June.
Philander arrived at Trent Bridge in April 2015 and was expected to play in six County Championship and three T20 matches before departing to fulfil commitments with his national side. He previously had three brief stints in County cricket, with Middlesex in 2008, Somerset in 2012 and Kent in 2013.
Vernon Darryl Philander was born on 24 June 1985 in Belleville, Cape Province, South Africa and began his career with Western Province and Cape Cobras. International honours soon came his way, with Philander playing Under-19 Tests and One-Day Internationals in England in 2003 and being capped by South Africa in both One-Day and T20 International cricket in 2007. When he was called into the Test side, he was an immediate success. He picked up eight wickets and the Man of the Match award in his debut against Australia at Newlands in 2011/12 and reached the landmark of 50 wickets in just seven games, the second fastest in Tests.
Philander did not have express pace, but was highly regarded as an accurate seam bowler who could move the ball both ways. By the time he joined Nottinghamshire, he was an established South African international in all formats. He had started in 26 Tests, claiming 115 wickets and scoring 684 runs. He had also played in seven T20 Internationals and 28 One-Day Internationals, including four matches in the 2014/15 World Cup in Australasia. With his experience and his impressive figures, Philander was expected to make a real impact for Nottinghamshire with the ball and contribute useful runs in the lower order.
Philander made his Notts debut against Middlesex at Lord’s in April 2015 but left the County slightly earlier than originally planned when recalled by South Africa ahead of the home tour by Bangladesh. In five County Championship matches and one T20 clash, he had a relatively modest return of 16 wickets, seven of which came in his final outing against Somerset, when he recorded his best figures of 4-56. With the bat, he contributed 177 runs with a top score of 41 at Durham.
Vernon Philander retired from Test cricket at the end of the 2019/20 and planned to return to England as a Kolpak player in 2020, although his contract with Somerset was cancelled by mutual consent due to the coronavirus pandemic. He was undoubtedly a key performer for South Africa as his 224 wickets in a 64 Test career demonstrate but Nottinghamshire supporters rarely saw him at his best in 2015.