South Australia’s Wayne Phillips was a rakishly built left handed batsman and wicketkeeper who represented both state and country in Cricket over the course of a first class career that spanned the thirteen year period between the 1977-78 and 1990-91 seasons.
Despite an unusual grip on the blade (one hand was placed close to the top of the handle and the other near to the bottom), Phillips was a natural stroke maker and one who was particularly confident when executing horizontal bat shots. It was this confidence – as well as a willingness to sacrifice himself for the good of his team – which was integral in his emergence as a successful opener for the Croweaters in the early 1980s and in his elevation to Test level at the start of the 1983-84 international season.
Phillips enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top flight: his commanding 159 against Pakistan in Perth made him only the fourteenth Australian in Test history to compile a century on debut. But it was not long before the same sense of selflessness that had inspired his transformation from a middle order player into an opening batsman acted as a millstone around his neck.
In mid-career, he was asked to become a wicketkeeper on the basis of his experience as a gloveman at underage and club level and as a response to the development of a gaping hole in the Australian team following Rod Marsh’s departure. While the move was not without some short-term benefits – his sound wicket keeping skills and a courageous second Test century on tour in the Caribbean in 1984 encouraged hopes of a long and fruitful stint in the role – it effectively spelled the beginning of the end for his international ambitions. His productivity with the bat waned so steadily thereafter that his Test and One Day International careers were both over within a mere three years.
Phillips subsequently remained a key player in the South Australian team for a number of seasons but his career never again touched the same heights as it had done previously.
Ultimately, Phillips became involved in full-time coaching work in 1996 at the Australian Cricket Academy in Adelaide.He was later appointed coach of the South Australian Redbacks. He can also occasionally be heard as a television commentator on the Nine Network.