Qantas T20 Tour of NZ 2021
BBL sensation confirmed for Aussie debut in NZ
The Sixers young gun set to bat in the top three for Australia in the series opener in Christchurch
8 February 2021, 09:51 AM AEST
Sydney Sixers gun Josh Philippe is set to make his international debut after skipper Aaron Finch revealed the youngster will bat in the top three for Australia in the upcoming T20 tour of New Zealand.
For the second straight season, Philippe starred for the Sixers in the KFC BBL, amassing 508 runs as the player of the tournament in the Sixers' successful title defence.
His performances demanded selection in Australia's T20 squad and now the 23-year-old looks set to debut in the first match of the campaign, to be played in Christchurch in two weeks.
Finch revealed Australia's probable top five on Monday morning, with Matthew Wade, Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis to join the captain and Philippe.
"The top three will be Wade, Philippe and myself," Finch said.
"Maxi (Maxwell) and Stoin (Stoinis), four and five, around that area.
"It's pretty simple I'd imagine. When you look at the squad list, Josh Philippe has been in great nick and it's great to see him playing well.
"Matty Wade, we know how dynamic he is along with Maxi.
"We're going to be flexible with that top order as well. If that means Wadey or myself or Josh, whoever bats at three, it'll be a great opportunity."
Philippe toured with Australia's limited-overs squad to the UK late last year but could not force his way into a full-strength T20 XI.
But with Australia's Test stars missing from the NZ tour, there was a chance for Philippe to crack the side off the back of his standout Big Bash campaign.
Finch says the right-hander's game has gone to a new level this summer, identifying a newfound ability to navigate his way through an innings when things aren't going his way – something the skipper puts down to time spent in the Indian Premier League with Royal Challengers Bangalore, where Philippe soaked up as much information as he could from T20 masters Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers.
"He's someone who has obviously got all the shots but he's starting to get to that point of his career – and I think a lot of that was on the back of having a couple of months of IPL where he spent a lot of time with AB (de Villers) and Virat (Kohli) talking about batting with myself (as well) – he's taken his game to a new level because he's just getting past that period when he's not hitting them well.
"When he's playing well it's lights out, it's brilliant. But just those days when he's not feeling 100 per cent, he's getting through that little danger period and still having a big impact on the game which I think is so important in T20.
"It's such an up-and-down game, you're not going to be consistent all the time but you can still contribute and he's doing a brilliant job, he played fantastically well (for the Sixers).
"When his head is still, he's playing beautifully, and his wicketkeeping has been really good as well.
"That's a great position for him to be in, coming here with a huge amount of confidence off the back of another Big Bash title."
Finch expects Wade to take the gloves for the first of five matches but has flagged the team could experiment with players and positions this tour.
With the T20 World Cup slated for the end of the year, Finch says the NZ campaign will be a fact-finding mission to test players in different scenarios and situations.
Australia are yet to win a men's T20 World Cup and Finch says the focus of the series against the Blackcaps will be about preparing the squad for the tournament in India.
"We'll use this as a way to gather a lot of info leading up to that T20 World Cup, which means there might be a little bit of shuffling," Finch said.
"But we'll try to stick closely to the guys playing their roles that they're accustomed to or where we'll see them in the future playing.
"The result is not the be all and end all. I think building up and finding information, finding different ways our team can structure up is almost more important."
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