Cricket World Cup: Blackcaps' Glenn Phillips eyes allrounder status after bowling blitz in India

If current trends at the World Cup are anything to go by, Blackcaps sparkplug Glenn Phillips may soon need to be reclassified as an allrounder.

Phillips has emerged as an unlikely hero in the NZ bowling ranks in India, proving he has much more to offer than just a blazing bat.

The South African-born Aucklander opened the tournament by posting career-best figures of 2/17 in a dominant win over England – collecting the crown of Moeen Ali's off-stump in a three-over cameo that essentially ended the defending champions' hopes of posting a competitive total.

Last weekend, he surpassed that mark with a new individual best against Australia. With the Blackcaps staring down the barrel of conceding an historically mammoth total against the red-hot Aussie batters, Phillips dismissed dangermen David Warner and Travis Head in quick succession, then added Steve Smith to his list of victims to pull the handbrake on their rivals' innings.

So crucial he was to the NZ cause, Phillips ended up bowling straight through for his first full 10-over spell of his career in any format of the game, posting an uber-efficient 3/37.

In fact, the sunglassed spinner currently boasts the sixth best average among all bowlers at the World Cup (17.16).

"I wasn't as necessarily going into that thinking that I was going to get plenty of overs but the way the ball was coming out the other day was fantastic," Phillips recalled.

Glenn Phillips celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Australia's Steve Smith.
Glenn Phillips celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Australia's Steve Smith. Photo credit: Getty Images

"[Stand-in captain Tom Latham] showed a lot of faith in me to keep me going and to be able to bowl 10 overs on the trot was a dream come true actually.

"It was nice to be able to have the clarity with [Latham] and the boys in the field as well, we saved a lot of runs in that inner ring. That definitely helped put a lot of pressure on the Aussies in the middle."

And his efforts with the ball are far more than simply a flash in the pan. A former wicketkeeper turned renowned fielder, Phillips' impact is a result of a mountain of ongoing work with a range of coaches he plays under, most notably former NZ captain/spinner extraordinaire Daniel Vettori with his Caribbean Premier League Twenty20 side and Blackcaps' assistant Shane Jurgensen.

"I've always loved bowling," said Phillips. "Even back when I still had the gloves on I was always in the nets bowling overs. I always wanted to be on the allrounder side of things.

"I understood it was going to be a long process... over the past couple of years I've tried to get as much information as possible and take my bowling as far forward as I possibly can in as short a time as possible.

"The understanding that match time overs are very different to bowling in the nets has been important and I think the way that [Latham] and [Kane Williamson] have used me over the past couple of years has given me a little bit of experience and understanding of what my role I going to be.

"Obviously it changes depending on games and situations. Sometimes I bowl more and sometimes I won't bowl at all, and that’s fine."

In the batting department, Phillips hasn’t quite managed to find his rhythm in India yet. Aside from his 71 blasting of Afghanistan, he's failed to push on after some promising starts to his innings.

Being able to supplement his shortcomings with the bat makes his development as a bowler that much more valuable, Phillips explains, and he intends continuing his focus on it in all formats of the sport.

"At the end of the day, it's about being able to contribute in both of the halves.

"In the fielding side of things, I try to contribute as much as possible. But to be able to have the bowling side if the batting doesn't necessarily go according to plan, then to be able to contribute in the second half of the innings, I think gives me a bit more confidence going in knowing I can do a job for the team in one way or another.

"From a test cricket and T20 perspective as well, I want to keep it going as far as I possibly can."

The Blackcaps move on to face surging South Africa in their next group game on Wednesday. After a fast start to their campaign with a four-game unbeaten streak, consecutive losses to India and Australia have somewhat stifled their progress.

Now sitting third in the standings, the New Zealanders will be eager to consolidate their position, as the race for the semi-finals heats up.

"It's about going about the game the way we do best, not trying to get sucked into way the other team play," said Phillips, insisting the team is undeterred by more recent results.

"Obviously South Africa are on a rampage at the moment and scoring a lot of runs and getting on a bit of a roll.

"We're still feeling really high and doing our roles really well. Yes, we had a couple of losses but they were quite close losses  

"We're confident going forward and still in a good place going into the South Africa game."

Join Newshub at 9:30pm Wednesday for live updates of the Blackcaps v South Africa World Cup match