Home cricket Versatile Glenn Phillips ‘pretty dumbfounded’ upon getting New Zealand contract

Versatile Glenn Phillips ‘pretty dumbfounded’ upon getting New Zealand contract

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The CPL proved a springboard to Phillips’ transformation into a reliable T20I batter

“It’s pretty unreal!”

This was Glenn Phillips‘ reaction to being offered a New Zealand central contract for the first time, four years after making his international debut in a T20I against South Africa in Auckland.

Phillips played 11 T20Is between 2017 and 2018 before he was dropped from the side. In particular, Phillips was uncomfortable against short balls at his hips – and the upper body – and was asked by the team management to expand his game before he could get another crack at New Zealand’s T20I line-up.

It was at the CPL that Phillips transformed himself into a more versatile batter and won his T20I spot back at the start of New Zealand’s home summer. By the end of the summer, Phillips had made it his own.

In the Caribbean, Phillips worked on his strike-rotation against spin with the assistance of former Jamaica Tallawahs assistant coach Ramnaresh Sarwan and also became more adept at muscling the ball down the ground against the seamers. Along the way, Phillips honed his ramps and switch-hits, which have served him well in the shortest format. In both CPL 2019 and 2020, he was the top-scorer for the Tallawahs, tallying 374 and 316 respectively.

Those runs came at the top of the order for the Tallawahs, but there would be no opening in that role for New Zealand. So, Phillips slotted into the middle order, dislodged Ross Taylor from the T20I side, and aced that challenge. He featured in all the 14 T20Is New Zealand played over the summer, in which he also contributed with his fastish offbreaks and electric fielding.

The highlight of his summer, though, was his blazing 46-ball century against West Indies at Bay Oval – the fastest by a New Zealander in T20I cricket. All up, Phillips hit 366 runs at an average of 40.66 and strike rate of just under 185.

“I didn’t see it [the central contract] coming,” Phillips says. “So, when I got the call it was very much a surprise as opposed to anything else. I was pretty dumbfounded. I had no idea what to say to be fair.

“It was a pretty unreal season in the end, wasn’t it? To be able to go out there and perform at the highest stage and highest level for the Black Caps – it was pretty incredible. To be able to trust my game at that level and that the coaching staff and all the boys in the team all had my back and believed in me the whole time really made a massive difference. I think that was a big contributing factor in how I went this season, which is cool.”

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