We have all heard of Acrophobia (fear of heights), Hydrophobia (chickenpox), Nyctophobia (fear of the dark) and so on.
Maybe it’s time we invented a new term. Bicep’o’phobia — the fear of well-built, muscular men who can punch six-packs using the sheer strength of their biceps.
Assuming the fear is real, Sri Lanka, right now, must surely be suffering from it.
In the days after the Stoinis in Perth had absolutely slaughtered them, they have been abused by yet another muscular man in the form of Glenn Phillips.
Going forward, there is a good chance that Sri Lanka and their bowlers may never look at the muscular men the same way again. Certainly on a cricket pitch in bowling.
Jokes aside, we simply can’t get enough of this World Cup. Because it’s the gift that keeps on giving. We’ve barely had enough time to process Zimbabwe’s stunning win over Pakistan and BOOM, less than 48 hours later, here we are. Another spectacularly intoxicating event, this time Glenn Phillips played the knock of his life to send New Zealand through to the semi-finals.
Wow. Just wow.
Let’s be real: the bump in the tournament is already settled. All things considered, it will be next to impossible for any individual to eclipse Virat Kohli’s efforts at the MCG.
However, if you were to look beyond Kohli’s innings (that’s a whole other level), Phillips has arguably played the winningest of the tournament.
In the words of Pommie Mbangwa, New Zealand were dead and half buried when Phillips walked into bat. They had been reduced to 15/3 after electing to bat first and at this point they had just one recognized batter waiting in the sheds, that being Jimmy Neesham, someone not particularly known for his innings skills .
The possibility of the Kiwis getting past 98, as they did in the warm-up against South Africa, was entirely realistic.
It was crazy that they ended up where they did: being bowled out for 167 before registering a thunderous 65-run victory.
None of them would have been possible without the intervention of one person.
Before we dissect Phillips’ punch, it’s important that we address the elephant in the room. Oh yes, the dropper. Or rather the drops.
It is true that Phillips benefited from some ferocious Sri Lankan pitching. Had he faced a talented team, he would surely have walked back into the locker room in the 12th.
But if drops aren’t going to stop us praising Steve Smith’s 109 in Pune and Kohli’s 149 at Edgbaston, there’s absolutely no reason why they should prevent this knock from Phillips from being deservedly praised.
For the longest time, Phillips has been a legendary slugger. Six-heat list? His name is at the very top. The best numbers against rotation? He is there. Best average + strikeout rate? Again, he is there.
But somehow, one got the feeling that in order to really be “accepted” as a big deal, he would have to show his skills on a big stage.
He would have been talked about endlessly had he gone berserk in the IPL – like Livingstone did – but he couldn’t do much in the three games he played. He didn’t shine in last year’s World Cup too, and all the hype surrounding him came on the back of his performances in the Vitality Blast, CPL, Super Smash and T20Is at home.
That is no longer the case. For with his display at the SCG today, Phillips has made a statement. A statement that reads, “Yes, I’m the real deal.”
To put into perspective just how ridiculous his shot was on Saturday, consider the following:
- Phillips scored 104, the second highest Kiwi individual score was 22.
- 14 of New Zealand’s 17 wickets on the night came from Phillips’ bat.
- Phillips scored 104 off 64 while the rest of the Kiwi spinners managed 53 off 56 balls.
- Phillips bowled the entire Sri Lankan team (102).
- Phillips became the first batsman in T20 World Cup history to hit a ton at No. 4 or lower.
There were many good things about Phillips’ hitting, but what was really striking was how good it was. In every way.
Evidence of this is how he scored exactly 52 runs through the edge and 52 through the off-edge. You can’t make it up, can you?
Overall, it was a hit that ticked almost every box.
Putting away the bad balls? Check.
Milking a cone? Check.
Smart and quick to run between Vikings? Check.
Saving the team from crisis? Check.
Perfect spoon? Check
Running against speed? Check.
Running against spin? Check.
Running all over the earth? Check.
Great game sense? Check.
Shift through the gears? Check.
Rude hit? Check.
Make a checklist of everything a batter could do while hitting, and Phillips’ hit had it all.
With the win and with Phillips’ strike, you get the feeling that New Zealand have sent quite a message. At the SCG today, they endured a bad day with the bat. A terrible day, even – only one batter passed the 25-run mark.
And yet, not only did they end up winning, but they got a significant NRR boost.
This just makes you wonder what’s in store for the rest of the tournament. Will they even have another “bad” day like this? And if this is supposed to be their “bad” day with the bat, how scared should teams be of them?
Let’s just leave it at that by saying to the rest of the field, ‘be afraid, be very afraid.’