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Cricket: Martin Guptill's pain is Glenn Phillips' gain for the Black Caps

Glenn Phillips celebrates scoring a century for Auckland in the Ford Trophy last month. Photo / photosport.nz
Glenn Phillips celebrates scoring a century for Auckland in the Ford Trophy last month. Photo / photosport.nz

Glenn Phillips will become the 73rd New Zealander to play a Twenty20 international if the weather co-operates when the Black Caps meet South Africa in a one-off series appetiser on Friday night.

The 20-year-old was explosive with the bat after making his T20 domestic debut as a wicketkeeper and opener for Auckland during the McDonald's Super Smash. He scored the 369 runs - the most in the competition - at an average of 46.12 and strike rate of 143 from 10 innings, including one century and three half-centuries.

"It was the biggest call of my life," Phillips said of his chat with selector Gavin Larsen on Tuesday evening. He comes in for Auckland teammate Martin Guptill who has been sidelined by another injury, this time to the right rather than left hamstring.

The Herald understands the Auckland team have an informal honours board reserved for those who can hit over the West Stand from Eden Park outer oval.

Phillips, a man with forearms like Popeye and hand speed to make Bruce Lee think twice, said he can "only" reach the concourse.

He has not been lumbered with expectation in preparing to debut against the country of his birth. Born in East London, Phillips' family emigrated to New Zealand when he was five.

He said the short, straight boundaries at Eden Park would tempt, despite his tendency to play more off the back foot.

"I haven't played on the main ground, but I'd rather the ball was coming through around my head than my toes.

"As an opening batsman, the faster the ball comes down, the faster it goes off the bat. I'd prefer it to come on quicker, whereas I'm not such a fan of medium pace.

"I've been told to 'see-the-ball, hit-the-ball', which is what I do best."

Phillips has been restricted the last two seasons. A growth spurt saw his back suffer what he described to the Herald on Sunday in December as "a deformity" on the right-hand side. Initially Phillips thought it was an injury, but doctors explained he can play through the pain as long as he gets regular rest and completes a series of neural stretches before any crouching. It doesn't require surgery.

Phillips had a break from keeping last New Zealand winter where he took up an apprenticeship at Lord's where Martin Crowe and Ross Taylor are among the alumni.

At Arundel Castle on May 22 he became the first batsman to record six sixes in an over at the ground, while playing for the MCC Young Cricketers against the Duke of Norfolk XI. He finished with 201 off 123 balls.

Rain is forecast for Friday, but expected to ease in the evening. Eden Park's famed drainage system might also cameo.

- NZ Herald

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