New Zealand’s 47-run win in the first T20I in Nelson was studded with stellar individual performances, but the standout moment was Glenn Phillips’ outstanding catch behind the stumps to dismiss Chris Gayle.
Running back from his wicketkeeping position, Phillips had passed the 30-yard circle when he dived forward at full length to complete the take. “I didn’t know where it went to start with,” Phillips said after the game. “I just started running back and then hoped that the two guys either side weren’t going to run into me. I just put out the big mitt and hoped that it stuck, and it did.
“It’s an interesting situation because none of us actually called for it. When the sky is a bit blue like that, sometimes you don’t have anything to gauge it on. But the ball has a shimmer around it, so you just sort of hope you catch it, and thankfully I did today.”
That dismissal sent West Indies into freefall in their chase, and Phillips played a big role in it. He went on to take two more catches – including a diving take to his right to intercept a thick edge from Rovman Powell – and effected a stumping.
Playing in just his fourth T20I, Phillips was filling in for the rested Tom Latham behind the stumps. With a sparkling show with the bat too – he made a 40-ball 55 that set New Zealand up for a strong total – Phillips may have given New Zealand’s selectors the option of playing Latham as a specialist batsman in the limited-over formats.
The first sign of Phillips being considered for the 50-over format came earlier in the season, when he was picked in the New Zealand A squad for the tour of India. He finished the series as New Zealand A’s highest run-getter, including a top score of 140 not out. That earned him a berth in the T20 international squad for the three matches in India. “The desire would definitely be to go into that one-day format, and then, if the Test stuff ever happens one day, then I’d definitely relish the challenge,” he said.
Phillips comes with the reputation of being a destroyer of attacks in domestic cricket. He was the leading run-scorer in the 2016-17 Super Smash, New Zealand’s domestic T20 tournament, where he made 369 runs in 10 innings at an average of 46.12 and strike-rate of 143.02 in his first season.
On Saturday, he showed not just brutal hitting abilities, but also tactical nous as he consolidated to ensure West Indies didn’t dominate. Phillips said that there were areas of his game he had to still work on.
“I wouldn’t say me playing slowly early on was intentional. It was just that I wasn’t able to hit a boundary. But my finding ones needs to improve, that is what I want to try and improve at in the nets.