“I’ve definitely put on some weight and started throwing a bit more tin around.”
After nailing down a permanent spot in New Zealand’s T20I team in 2020, Glenn Phillips launched his power-hitting to an all-new level in 2021. Nobody has hit more sixes than Phillips’ 89 in T20 cricket (including the Hundred) this year. Phillips has put his six-hitting down to extensive workouts at the gym, which often include 800 press-ups a day, and understanding his strengths.
“Being in the gym has had a lot to do with it [six-hitting],” Phillips said during a virtual media interaction. “I’ve definitely put on some weight and started throwing a bit more tin around. So when it came to batting in the middle, if I did need to take it deeper, I could, but I always knew that I could catch-up and clear the rope if I had to. I think understanding what my strong shots are to be able to hit those sixes allows me to keep a cool head and play the right balls and hit them for six, as opposed to just trying to hit everything for six.
“I think it’s a combination of working hard in the gym as well as understanding my game and what my strengths are and understanding the line and length that I’m looking for in order to be able to hit the maximum. Liam [Livingstone] is an incredible ball-striker, so he’s always going to be a tough one to keep off my heels and with the World Cup coming up and a couple of matches left in the year still it’s going to be a tough chase to see who finishes on top there.”
Phillips has been on the road since May, participating in the Vitality Blast, Hundred, the CPL and most recently the IPL in the UAE. So, what keeps himself busy during quarantine? Working out, of course.
“Especially when I’m quarantined and alone and there’s not much to do, I try to do as much exercise as possible, but at the moment [in the New Zealand bubble] I’ve got my partner here, so we enjoy as much time together as possible before she ends up leaving. I think as soon as she’s gone again, it’ll be exercising 24/7…
“At one stage I was sort of doing 800 [press-ups] a day over three sets. I’d do a set of 300, then 300, and 200. And on an average day, I’d normally end up with about 500. So, the 300 and 200 set – they all depend upon what the day was and depending on other workouts I was doing – sometimes cardio, sometimes it’d be strength-based, but those are definitely the ones that made the biggest difference to when I got back home where my numbers on things like the bench press and bench pull went skyrocketing went from doing just body-weight stuff.”
Phillips has also done his bit with the ball in franchise tournaments, with Daniel Vettori, the Barbados Royals coach, talking up his quickish offspin during CPL 2021. New Zealand could play both their frontline spinners Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi in their XI, with Phillips providing some cushion.
Phillips is still learning on the job as a bowler and hopes to be matched up with India and Afghanistan, who could potentially have few left-handers in their top and middle orders, in conditions that might aid spin.
“I’m really feeling good about my bowling at the moment,” Phillips said. “It was awesome from Sanju [Samson] to give me a couple of opportunities in the IPL as well in these conditions and I definitely understood that I probably bowled a little bit fuller in the second game and such is the case with some games. As a bowler, some bowlers are going to get a tap regardless of whether they bowl all the time or they are working on my skill like myself.
“But for me personally, I’m bowling a lot in the nets and working on my length, pace and change-ups and I’ve also got a few more tricks in the bag now, which means if I have the opportunity to use them, I can be a little bit more unpredictable, which ideally gives Kane [Williamson] something else to play with other than just Ish [Sodhi] and [Mitchell] Santner. So, whether I get used or not, it’s definitely up to the situation of the team. But we have some left-handers come into play, especially with India and Afghanistan there. There’s a potential that I’m going to bowl and I’m definitely going to relish a challenge as always.”
Phillips has a chance to fine-tune his big-hitting and offspin further in three warm-up fixtures (against Australia, England and Netherlands) before New Zealand open their World Cup campaign on October 26 against Pakistan in Sharjah.
Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo