Western Australia’s strong batting line-up was under serious pressure when Josh Philippe walked out to bat on the first day of their Marsh Shield clash with Tasmania.
On the renowned dicey pitch at the WACA, the home side was teetering at 4/40 after veteran Shaun Marsh edged behind off Tassie bowler Lawrence Neil-Smith. Normally a natural stroke player and a quick scorer, Philippe had to shelve his natural game and grind hard to get his side into a respectable position.
“I was just trying to spend as much time out there as I could,” Philippe said.
“It was a challenging wicket and they bowled exceptionally well, they didn’t really give us much.”
“It was just about spending as much time out there as we could and then the runs would come.”
It took time, but the runs did finally begin to eke out for Philippe and his bevy of partners who came and went under Tasmania’s fierce pressure. With the top order failing to withstand the heat, Philippe fought for a mature 60 off 143 balls to top score in Western Australia’s first innings effort of 238. With some resistance from teammates Hilton Cartwright (30), D’Arcy Short (24), and Jhye Richardson (34), the bottom half of WA’s batting order held firm when it counted.
Having spent the majority of the day’s play out in the middle, Philippe was able to judge Tasmania’s new-look bowling attack which included Neil-Smith. The seamer finished with his maiden five-wicket haul at domestic level and summed up a bowling unit that Philippe couldn’t help but praise.
“It felt like they bowled a really good area, they challenged our defence and challenged us driving the ball all day,” he said.
“It was quite tough for the whole day, they didn’t give us much and it was hard to score on.”
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Despite the first day’s play not going completely to plan for the home side, Philippe was buoyant about their ability to pass 200 and then take an early wicket before the close of play.
“It’s a pretty competitive first-day score, and getting the wicket late puts the cherry on top for the day,” Philippe said.
“To get 240, the way we were looking, we were pretty happy with that.”
Philippe may have missed out on selection for Australia’s T20 World Cup squad despite some stellar performances in the last two installments of the BBL, but he is happy playing for his state and working on his red ball game. With Aussie wicketkeeper and captain Tim Paine still under an injury cloud heading into the Ashes series this summer, Philippe’s ability to produce runs from the middle order and wicketkeeping makes him an outside chance of receiving his baggy green.
For now, he’s fine with building his confidence and helping Western Australia push for a Marsh Shield title.
“I spent a lot of time out there, probably for not as many runs as I would’ve liked,” Philippe said.
“If I ended up with 80 or 100 it would’ve been a really satisfying day, but I fell a little short of that.”
“I’m pretty confident about my game at the moment, it was nice to get some time in the middle.”
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