New Zealand’s Glenn Phillips: Hard-hitting batsman, archer, surfer and hiker who dreams of becoming a commercial pilot

As the world sees more and more of New Zealand’s Glenn Phillips, it is becoming more and more frequent to hear commentators say “fasten your seat belts.”

It is a phrase Phillips, one of the most enterprising batsmen, has been uttering to himself for years. The 26-year-old wants to become a commercial pilot once he finishes with his cricketing career.

Although Phillips made his international debut in T20Is way back in 2017 and has played 56 matches, he is just becoming an integral part of the Black Caps side. Having made his ODI debut last July, Phillips is one of their main engines in the middle order, where he has been given the licence to go full throttle.

Flying is not his only passion. He has varied interests, including archery, hiking and surfing.

“I have always been interested in flying and being in control of this big machine,” Phillips told The Indian Express on the eve of New Zealand’s first match against India at Hyderabad. “Actually I don’t know where it came from, but I have always been fascinated about being in the air, flying above the ground and being in control of a machine that is so huge and powerful and ensuring the safety of hundreds of people,” he said.

Phillips has a flight simulator on his computer and in his leisure time takes over the controls in the virtual cockpit. While flying the Airbus A380 – the biggest commercial airline – had always been the dream, since his cricketing career took off, it is something Phillips has to give up.

“I’ve come to realise that it is not going to happen, unfortunately. So I just enjoy flying them on my simulator. I’ve my own flights at home (on the simulator) and fly them every now and then. That dream of flying the Airbus A380 ended when I got busier with cricket because these days you need to have a lot of flying hours under your belt and I won’t be able to manage that. And age-wise, by the time I get there, I won’t be able to do that. But I can definitely dream about flying a commercial aircraft in New Zealand,” said Phillips.

These days as Phillips has become a frequent flyer, the inevitable question arises as to what goes on in his mind as he boards a flight. “Actually nothing. I know what goes on in terms of take-off procedures and the air traffic control system and how the cockpit system works. I do sometimes imagine what the pilot is up to,” he added.

There was a period where Phillips had installed a simulator even on his phone. But has done away with it as his interests have expanded beyond planes.

Back in New Zealand, Phillips is a national champion in archery. “I’ve won it a couple of times and I really enjoy the process-driven side of things. From an archery perspective, there is always a new problem to solve and technical defects. It is something I enjoyed at first and really got hooked on and they have a world championship. If I can manage to get the time, it is something I’m looking forward to competing in,” Phillips said.

Given his varied interests, it is astonishing how Phillips finds time for everything. Apart from learning to fly and practicing archery, he also had time to learn surfing.

In between, he also tried his hand at hockey because he liked drag-flicks.

“It is totally a different sport and I’m not good at dribbling the ball, but I really enjoyed going for the drag flicks because you were able to generate so much power. And as time goes on, it is like I pick up an interest and I do it for a year and then move on to the other. But I do continue doing everything. I just shuffle them around because I don’t have time for everything because……I’m into hiking as well.”

The list seems endless. Phillips has already hiked Mount Taranaki (2,518m), a dormant stratovolcano in New Zealand. “I’ve climbed a few beyond the snowlines as well. I have not been able to do any other big mountains because of the playing contract. I love to do K2, Everest and climbing Mt Cook (NZ) will be too cool as well. But I don’t know if I would get the chance to do that,” he added.

Talking of his batting, Phillips says his flamboyant style of batting comes naturally to him. With a settled batting line-up in place, Phillips knows that he would be mostly unleashed in the slog overs. Although he took up the wicket-keeping gloves briefly, Phillips is looking to contribute more with his handy off-breaks. “Honestly speaking I hate wicketkeeping. If I had a choice I would never put on a pair of gloves again. But I very much enjoy bowling. And all-rounders have become an integral part, especially with all the franchise cricket going around. Right now everyone knows the role in this New Zealand team. The World Cup is something that is definitely in my sight. There is still a long way to go, but it is one of my goals,” Phillips said.

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