New Zealand’s 47-run win in the first T20I in Nelson was studded with some stellar individual performances, but the standout moment was Glenn Phillips‘ outstanding catch behind the stumps to dismiss Chris Gayle.
Running back from his wicket-keeping position, Phillips had passed the 30-yard circle when he dived forward to complete the take. “I didn’t know where it went to start with,” Phillips said. “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 on a freefall in their chase, and Phillips played a big hand 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 to boot – he made a 40-ball 55 that set New Zealand up for a strong total – Phillips may have given the national selectors the option of playing Latham as a specialist batsman in the shorter 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 smarts as he consolidated to ensure West Indies didn’t dominate, before bringing out the big hits. Phillips, however, insisted that there were areas in 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.
“We would have been under a lot more pressure [if not for that final over off which Kesrick Williams conceded 25]. That could have made it 160 and that would have been a bit of an under-par total. We were aiming for 170 after we went through the first six overs, and we thought if we got 170, then anything over that would be good. If we had only got 160, then they would have been in with a bigger sniff.”