11:08 AM ET
Adam Gilchrist believes Josh Philippe is capable of being Australia's "catalyst for change". Steven Smith sees "no reason why Philippe can't play all formats". Now, the 23-year old Western Australian wicketkeeper has another admirer in AB de Villiers, with whom he'll share a dressing room at Royal Challengers Bangalore in IPL 2020.
"We are going to have some world-beaters," de Villiers told RCB TV. "We will have (Aaron) Finch, Moeen Ali, Adam Zampa and Josh Philippe. I am looking forward to connecting with Josh. I see a lot of similarities between the way he plays when I was younger."
A batsman firmly in the Gilchrist mould, Phillipe will be a first-timer at the IPL after he was bought at the December auction. At the time, Mike Hesson, Royal Challengers' Director of Cricket, admitted to being surprised at having signed him up at base price (US$ 280,000 approx). Phillipe himself admitted to being "shocked" that he was picked.
Phillipe has played just 13 List A games, but has enhanced his reputation following a stellar BBL season, where he helped Sydney Sixers clinch the title. He was the third highest run-getter in the season - his 487 runs in 16 innings at the top of the order came at a strike rate of 130.
The icing on the cake was his match-winning 29-ball 52 in a rain-reduced 12-overs shootout in the final against Melbourne Stars. It earned him the Player of the Match award. He finished the season strongly with three half-centuries in his last four outings after a mid-season slump.
In all, he hit five half-centuries and de Villiers had a ringside view of one of those knocks, a well-paced unbeaten 43-ball 52 in a fairly regulation chase against Brisbane Heat. "I am excited about Josh," he said. "I watched him play for the Sydney Sixers. He takes the new ball on, he is a very talented player, I have heard Gilchrist say really some good things about him."
Phillipe will be heading into the IPL on the back of a maiden stint with the Australian limited-overs squad in England. His only outings on tour were a bunch of warm-up games in the lead-up to both the T20I and ODI series.
In an interview to The Cricketer last week, Phillipe said he was most looking forward to learning a few tricks from Virat Kohli and de Villiers. "It's surreal," he said of the prospect of playing with two modern-day stars. "AB and Virat are two of the best in the world so it'll be great to see how they train, play, and go about their business. It's an amazing opportunity to rub shoulders with those guys and see how the best in the world operate."