Glenn Phillips, New Zealand’s 20-year-old uncapped wicketkeeper-batsman, was over the moon following an unexpected call-up to the national side, where he will replace the injured Martin Guptill in the one-off Twenty20 International (T20I) against South Africa, to be played at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday.
“I got the news at about 7.40 last night … it was the biggest call of my life so far, I can’t believe it really,” Phillips said on Tuesday (February 14). “It was very much out of the blue. I thought Martin Guptill would be there, I thought he was fully fit. Getting that call at that time in the evening was a bit of a shock but definitely one I’m really happy about it.”
Phillips scored 369 runs at an average of 46 and a strike rate of 143 in the Super Smash – New Zealand’s domestic T20 tournament. The aggregate included an eye-catching 116 off just 57 balls against Central Districts last month. Later that month, he scored another century against the same team, this time in a domestic one-day game.
“Glenn was outstanding for Auckland at the top of the order in the Super Smash and proved an extremely exciting player,” national selector Gavin Larsen said, clearly impressed by the tyro.
Phillips is a product of the modern-day batsmanship and is reputed to play big shots at will. The prospect of debuting against a South African side that boasts of fast bowling talents like Kagiso Rabada hasn’t ruffled his feathers. On the contrary, he couldn’t have asked for a better debut.
“In the end, as an opening batsman the faster the ball comes the faster it goes off bat, I prefer it to come a bit quicker,” Phillips said. That he is just 20 also allows New Zealand Cricket to keep any sort of pressure away from him, allowing him to ease into the highest level.
“I haven’t been given any expectations, which is nice on new shoulders … I’m feeling good, I will just be keeping things as simple as possible.”
Given the sort of slam-bang cricketer that he has come to be, it comes as no surprise that Phillips has put forward his name for the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) player auction. He also fancies his chances in the Caribbean version of the T20 league. However, franchise cricket will have to wait a bit longer as he gears up to take on the country of his birth, which he left at the age of five.