From grade cricket at Abbett Park to an international debut at Hagley Oval, West Aussie Josh Philippe has become Australian T20 International cricketer number 96.
Australian captain Aaron Finch confirmed the BBL10 player of the tournament would make his debut at some stage on the five-match tour, but selectors have wasted no time, opting to play him in the opening clash.
Finch called correctly at the toss and opted to bowl first.
“It looks like a really good wicket, I don’t think it’ll change at all throughout the game,” he said.
“We’re backing our batters to chase it down but also our bowlers to do the job.
“Josh Philippe is making his debut which is fantastic for him. He’s been in great form in the shorter format in the last few years, (we’re) really excited for him.”
Philippe won’t take the gloves on debut, allowing him the opportunity to focus solely on his batting. Instead, Tasmanian veteran Matthew Wade will suit up behind the stumps.
Wade and Finch will open the batting, allowing for the left-right combination, while Philippe will bat at first drop.
The 23-year-old earned selection off the back of another stellar Big Bash campaign, during which he tallied 508 runs at 31, with an impressive strike rate just shy of 150.
His superb form prompted the Australian white-ball captain to reveal Philippe would be rewarded with game time this tour, telling reporters it was a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’.
“The top three will be (Matthew) Wade, Philippe and myself. Maxi (Glenn Maxwell) and Stoin (Marcus Stoinis), four and five, around that area. It’s pretty simple I’d imagine,” Finch said from hotel quarantine a few weeks ago.
“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.”
Finch praised the wicket-keeper batsman for taking his game to the next level, where he’s able to dig in and grind through an innings, instead of just opting for flashy shots.
“He’s taken his game to a new level because he’s just getting past that period when he’s not hitting them well,” Finch continued.
“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 cricket.”
Australian XI: Aaron Finch (c), Matthew Wade (wk), Josh Philippe, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Marsh, Daniel Sams, Ashton Agar, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa
New Zealand XI: Martin Guptill, Tim Seifert (wk), Kane Williamson (c), Devon Conway, Glenn Philipps, Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Trent Boult