Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Opening batsman Michael Klinger is set to make his international debut at the age of 36 after he was drafted into Australia’s squad for their three-match Twenty20 series against Sri Lanka later this month.
Klinger’s inclusion stems from his superb showing with the Perth Scorchers in the recently concluded Big Bash League (BBL), where he was the third-highest run-scorer with 334 runs, which included three half-centuries, at an average of 37.11.
Speaking about the decision to bring Klinger into the squad, interim chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns said: “On Michael Klinger’s selection, he has been a very good player in this form of the game for some time now.
“He has a history of strong performances in T20 competitions in the UK and in the BBL, including the match-winning innings for the Perth Scorchers to secure this year’s BBL title.”
Klinger added: “It’s certainly exciting times. It was great for JL to come and tell me at the start of training, and then speaking to Trevor [national selector Trevor Hohns] – I couldn’t ask for anything more. It’s been 15, 16 years of hard work and it’s great to get some reward now. Exciting is probably the best word.
“I called my wife first. I held back the tears, to be honest, until I spoke to her. JL gave me a big hug, and it was hard to keep the tears away after I spoke to her. Then I called my brother and my dad and my sister. It’s a moment, I wasn’t sure if it was going to come. That half an hour when I got to speak to my family, I’ll treasure forever.
“Maybe the last 12 months in terms of Test cricket-wise, they’ve looked to go in a new direction, and that’s fine. But Twenty20 cricket you generally pick the guys who are in form.”
Meanwhile, wicketkeeper-batsman Tim Paine was also rewarded with a call-up even though he was 14th on the scoring chart in the BBL. The 32-year-old, who captained the Hobart Hurricanes, has not played any international cricket since 2011. In fact, his last match for Australia was a Twenty20 International against England in January of that year.
“Tim Paine has been included as the batsman/wicketkeeper, adding to the more experienced players like captain Finch, Henriques, Faulkner and Tye, all of whom have consistent success across multiple summers of the BBL, as well as experience on the international stage,” Hohns said.
The uncapped duo of Jhye Richardson and Ashton Turner also found a spot in the side, but there was no place for the BBL’s leading run-scorer Ben Dunk or the top wicket-taker Sean Abbott.
Dunk, who played for the Adelaide Strikers, accumulated 364 runs at an average of 52, while Abbott, who represented the Sydney Sixers, took 20 wickets at an average of 16.15.
Following an impressive summer, Travis Head secured a place in the side, while batsman Chris Lynn will have to prove his fitness before the start of the series.
Lynn was diagnosed with a bulging disc in his neck, but had played through the injury in the BBL. He also went on to make his ODI debut against Pakistan last month, but only featured in one game of the five-match series as his injury became worse.
“Both Travis Head and Chris Lynn were exceptional with the bat this summer and Chris’s selection will depend on his fitness,” Hohns said. “He is due to see a specialist later this week and we will take into account that advice ahead of this series.
“Ashton Turner, Adam Zampa, Pat Cummins, Jhye Richardson and Billy Stanlake round off the bowlers in the squad, all maintaining a balance of excellent economy and wickets in this format, which is essential for a winning side.
“The influence of younger players in this squad also gives us the opportunity to look forward to the ICC World T20, which is being hosted here in Australia in 2020. The overall standards being set in the BBL are very high and many of these players are making a good impression, but consistency was key for the selectors on this occasion.”
Australia have been forced to bring in a number of new faces in their Twenty20 squad due to the fact that many of their regular players, including captain Steve Smith, opener David Warner and left-arm seamer Mitchell Starc, will be preparing for a four-Test series in India, which begins just a day after the third and final Twenty20 International against Sri Lanka on February 22.
With Smith unavailable for selection, Aaron Finch will take over the reins in his absence.
Australia T20 Squad: Aaron Finch (capt), Michael Klinger, Travis Head, Chris Lynn, Moises Henriques, Ashton Turner, Tim Paine (wk), James Faulkner, Pat Cummins, Adam Zampa, Andrew Tye, Jhye Richardson, Billy Stanlake.