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Glenn Phillips signs Gloucestershire deal for Vitality T20 Blast

Middle-order batter could also play two Championship games; James Harris joins Glamorgan on loan

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
Glenn Phillips has become a first-choice member of New Zealand's T20I side  •  AFP

Glenn Phillips has become a first-choice member of New Zealand's T20I side  •  AFP

Gloucestershire have announced the signing of Glenn Phillips, the New Zealand batter, for the duration of their T20 Blast campaign.
Phillips, 24, dislodged Ross Taylor to become a member of New Zealand's first-choice T20I side this season, playing all 14 of their home fixtures and hitting 108 off 51 balls against West Indies. He will provide a wicketkeeping option if James Bracey misses some of the Blast due to England duty, and can also bowl occasional offbreaks.
A specialist middle-order batter, Phillips has improved his game against spin markedly during four seasons playing for the Jamaica Tallawahs in the Caribbean Premier League, and is understood to have been discussed as a possible back-up option by IPL franchises ahead of February's auction.
He will add further firepower to a squad that reached Finals Day last summer for the first time since 2007, joining Ian Cockbain, Jack Taylor, Benny Howell and Ryan Higgins in the middle-order engine room. Phillips spent the 2016 summer in the UK playing for MCC Young Cricketers and for Brondesbury CC in club cricket, and this will be his first stint in county cricket.
Phillips will also be available for the County Championship fixtures that take place during the Blast, specifically against Middlesex and Hampshire at Cheltenham, by which point Kraigg Brathwaite's stint at the club will have ended. He has a solid first-class record, averaging 40.18, and made a half-century in his only Test to date - against Australia in early 2020. Having missed out on New Zealand's squad for the tour of England, he will be available to play throughout the Blast, and could be an attractive option as a short-term replacement playing during the Hundred.
Ian Harvey, Gloucestershire's interim head coach, said: "Glenn is very exciting to watch and he's going to add a massive amount to what is already a powerful T20 batting line-up. He can bat at the top of the order, in the middle and also add to our firepower at the end. He's a bit of an allrounder because he bowls and keeps wicket as well so he will give us plenty of options.
"To have someone in your side with the ability to do pretty much everything is a huge bonus and his experience of playing around the world in franchise cricket is going to be a massive benefit for our players. He's played Test match cricket and can keep wicket so he gives us plenty of options if we want to bring him in for red-ball games."
Meanwhile, Glamorgan have announced the signing of James Harris, the Middlesex seamer, on loan for their next two Championship fixtures. Harris, who is president of the Professional Cricketers' Association, came through the club's academy system before joining Middlesex in 2012, and is returning to Wales on loan for the second time after a similar move in 2014.
Harris has fallen down the pecking order at Middlesex and was not named in their squads for the first two Championship games of the season. Glamorgan are experiencing an availability crisis within their seam-bowling department with Ruaidhri Smith and Jamie McIlroy suffering injuries, Timm van der Gugten reporting muscle tightness and Michael Neser yet to arrive as an overseas player, giving Harris an opportunity to play in their matches against Northamptonshire and Kent.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98