Australia have found Tim Paine’s successor’s successor, with Steve Smith confident Josh Philippe has the potential to pad up for the Aussies in all three formats.
Smith will play his first game alongside Philippe for the Sydney Sixers on Thursday night against Brisbane Heat, 15 months after convincing the young wicketkeeper-batsman to move from Perth.
The shift has proven a golden move for the 22-year-old, who was averaging as high as 51.2 for the first half of the Big Bash League before a recent rough trot.
“There’s no reason why he can’t play all three forms for Australia,” Smith said.
“He’s got all the tools there, it’s just about using them at the right times.
“He plays fast bowling really well, we’ve seen him play spin really well with Rashid Khan (earlier this summer).
“The more he plays and is exposed to pressure situations the more he will improve.”
Smith played an instrumental role in getting Philippe to the Sixers last season.
A Perth boy, Philippe’s only way into the Scorchers team would have been if a spot opened up through injury or national representation.
With Cameron Bancroft and Josh Inglis the preferred keepers in WA, he would have likely only played as a batter.
His situation prompted a call from Smith that helped put Philippe in magenta.
“I thought it was a no-brainer to get an opportunity as a young kid to experience a different environment,” Smith said.
“He has played really well up the top of the order, but he also played really well down lower last year. That’s one of the hottest commodities in T20s.
“Not too many people around the world have nailed that position. MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Andre Russell or Jos Buttler are very good as well.
“The way he nailed that, for a young kid, was very impressive.”
At national level, 28-year-old Alex Carey already has the gloves in the white- ball game and is seen as Paine’s successor in Test cricket.
But Philippe is six years younger again and his window of opportunity will come.
Regularly compared to Smith in appearance and technique, Philippe is now certain he made the right move crossing from west coast to east.
“It’s funny to look back on how hard it was to make that decision,” Philippe said. “Sitting here now it’s easy to say ’why was it so hard?’.
“But at the time there is a lot more going through your head.
“(Smith) was pretty influential but at the same time I had to make a decision I felt was right for my development.
“I went back and did a pros and cons with dad and we sorted it out from there.”