Young gun Josh Philippe has steered the Sydney Sixers towards a comfortable five-wicket victory over cross-town rivals the Sydney Thunder at Manuka Oval on Wednesday evening.
The defending champions comfortably chased the 129-run target with eight balls to spare in the rain-affected fixture in the nation’s capital.
While the rest of Sixers top order crumbled, Philippe hammered 64 off 36 in an explosive knock which featured seven boundaries and two sixes.
The wicketkeeper brought up his half-century in just 24 balls and brutally plundered 23 runs off tweaker Jonathan Cook’s only over of the match.
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“He’s a superstar,” Sixers veteran Steve O’Keefe said on Channel 7.
“We see it week in and week out with him. I think he’s already the franchise’s best opening batsman.
“He plays shots you wouldn’t even dream about.”
During the run chase, Philippe leapfrogged Thunder rival Alex Hales to become the tournament’s highest run-scorer with 337 runs in 10 innings.
The 23-year-old is slowly cementing himself as one of Australian cricket’s most promising prospects, and has already drawn comparisons to a young Steve Smith.
Philippe featured in Australia’s one-day squad for last year’s tour to England, but is yet to make his international debut.
Former Test wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist called for the West Australian to get an opportunity in Australian colours last year.
“Very exciting young talent, still learning his craft, about himself and what his capabilities are, and of course match situations,” Gilchrist said in September.
“But the quicker you get them exposed to the top level, with that uninhibited approach he can maybe catch a few teams off guard — that’s only going to instil more confidence in him to not suddenly have to think he’s got to rein it in because he’s at the next level.”
MOST RUNS IN BBL10
Josh Philippe (SIX) — 337 runs @ 33.70
Alex Hales (THU) — 323 runs @ 32.30
Ben McDermott (HUR) — 301 runs @ 43.00
Alex Carey (STR) — 279 runs @ 34.87
Marcus Stoinis (STA) — 227 runs @ 39.57
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Meanwhile, O’Keefe claimed career-best figures of 3/15 off four overs to rattle the Thunder top order, removing English internationals Sam Billings and Hales in one damaging over.
The 36-year-old is currently the Sixers’ highest wicket-taker for the season, with 13 scalps in nine matches.
“I bowled a fraction slower than I normally would, and tonight I got the rewards,” O’Keefe said.
“We’re taking wickets throughout the middle, which certainly puts us in good stead when we come to the back-end of the innings.”
The Sixers will return to Manuka Oval to face the Perth Scorchers on Saturday, while the Thunder will take on the Hobart Hurricanes at the same venue on Monday.