Qantas T20 Tour of NZ 2021
Gloves on or off, Philippe is adamant he'll grab his chance
The Sydney Sixers young gun is battling with the experienced Matthew Wade for wicketkeeping duties but is content to play as a batter
12 February 2021, 06:15 PM AEST
Australia T20 debutant in waiting Josh Philippe is yet to learn if he'll also be the team's wicketkeeper but insists it won't be an issue if he isn't the man behind the stumps.
Captain Aaron Finch this week confirmed Philippe would bat in the top three for Australia in the five-match T20 series against New Zealand that starts in 10 days' time on February 22.
But whether that's opening alongside the skipper or coming in at first drop, and who will keep wicket, is yet to be worked out.
His rival for both spots is squad veteran Matthew Wade, whom Australia selectors put on the T20 tour after axing him from the Test squad for the now-postponed series in South Africa.
Philippe enjoyed another superb year for the BBL|10 champion Sydney Sixers, amassing 508 runs as the player of the tournament in the club's successful title defence.
Wade played just three matches for the Hurricanes after joining the club after Australia's Test series against India, but showcased his explosive power at the top of the order with 105 runs from 56 balls in that time.
Wade is also the incumbent gloveman for the national side having kept wicket for the past four Australia T20 internationals – including as captain for the second T20 against India – after selectors moved away from Alex Carey after two games of the series against England in September.
If Wade does take the gloves, it will not be unfamiliar ground for the 23-year-old to suddenly find himself square of the wicket and with his rarely seen fingers exposed to the night air.
"When I first started playing professional cricket for WA I ran around in the field, and I fielded in quite a few IPL games that I played last year," Philippe said, referencing his time with Royal Challengers Bangalore last season.
"It's just an area I have to keep working at, as well as my keeping and as well as my batting because it seems to be a common theme, I don't seem to keep and bat in all the teams I play in."
Philippe was quietly confident he'd earn a maiden international cap in New Zealand, having gone unused on that T20 and ODI tour of England last year.
And a conversation with Finch on the plane ride to Christchurch following the BBL Final in Sydney confirmed that.
"It is what it is when you go on a tour and don't play, but it is nice to know there's a reward and light at the end of the tunnel," Philippe told reporters today.
"It was nice to hear him say those words. He mentioned it on the plane but then to say it to the media is pretty special as well.
"I've just got to train well and try not to get injured."
The Australia squad had their first hit-out as a group today, having been granted permission by New Zealand's health authorities to train together in a bio-secure environment while serving their quarantine.
For the 23-year-old, hotel quarantines and bio-secure bubbles on Australia tours are all he knows.
"Being a COVID tour certainly added a different dynamic to it (in the UK). Being completely hotel bound, staying at the grounds, only able to use facilities at certain times means you've got to schedule everything you do around that stuff," Philippe said.
"There's no just going to the gym any time, we didn't have access to pools or anything, so it certainly creates a challenge.
"But for me they're the only Aussie tours I've been on, I don't know any different at the moment. I enjoyed them so far.
"There's a little bit more freedom after quarantine on this trip so I think all the boys are looking forward to that.
"The UK tour was great to build some relationships with some of the senior players that don't really play much Big Bash cricket.
"But especially with the WA guys, we're a super tight bunch, so I'm lucky to have a lot of mates over here."
Philippe, who has been retained by RCB for this year's IPL, is understandably looking forward to reuniting with teammates Virat Kohli and, in particular, South Africa superstar AB de Villiers, whom he soaked up so much information from last season.
"One thing I noticed with someone like AB is his ability to get off strike early," Philippe said.
"He never blew the game away too early. He was always sort of 10 off 8 balls and then set a platform from there to really target the back-end.
"If that's where my opportunity is, then to be really busy at the crease and whoever is at the other end just try and pass the strike off to them and try and set up to target the last few overs.
"He gave me some great advice along the way, and just to see how they go about their business out in the middle. There was some really challenging situations out there and they keep it so simple.
"Every time I asked a question on what they were thinking, it went back down to 'stand still, watch the ball' … some really simple, clear messages.
"It's pretty cool to know the best in the business keep it simple."
Qantas T20I tour of New Zealand 2021
Australia squad: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Daniel Sams, Tanveer Sangha, D'Arcy Short, Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa.
New Zealand squad: TBC
All matches will be shown live in Australia on Fox Cricket and Kayo