CAPE TOWN – After the Newlands ball-tampering scandal, it would take a brave Australian to head to South Africa to play some domestic cricket.
But at 38-years-old, Michael Klinger has been around the proverbial block a few times, and is not daunted by playing in a country that branded his compatriots, which included his good friend and teammate Cameron Bancroft, a “bunch of cheats” after they were caught red-handed using sandpaper to change the state of the ball in the third Test against SA at Newlands in March.
Instead, Klinger is hoping to make a lasting impression at the Paarl Rocks in this season’s Mzansi Super League, which gets underway this weekend.
“(SA) is a great place to play cricket. I have been over here twice. It was quite a long time ago with the Australian Under-19s and also with South Australia Redbacks in the Champions League. I have fond memories, although I didn’t come down to these parts, it was all up in Pretoria. So far, everyone has been great at the Paarl Rocks,” Klinger said.
“None of the boys have handed me sandpaper or anything like that yet. I don’t think I (will suffer abuse from the fans). Maybe I will ask Henry (Davids) or Faf (du Plessis) to field me in the inner ring so I won’t get any (abuse).”
Get to know a little more about yesterday's new signing, @maxyklinger. He's played 180 T20 matches scoring 5 428 runs at a strike rate of 124.66. He's hit a remarkable 7 T20 centuries, the 2nd most in the world, behind only @henrygayle.#PaarlRocks pic.twitter.com/RQ1WU8ODYt— Paarl Rocks (@Paarl_Rocks) November 8, 2018
Klinger certainly has plenty to offer the new Winelands franchise. He is a vastly experienced T20 campaigner, having won five Big Bash titles with Victoria (2006 and 2007), South Australia (2011) and the Perth Scorchers (2015 and 2017).
Not only is his prowess with bat at the top of the order a coup for the Rocks - he averages 47.66 in three T20 internationals for Australia and 36.18 in all T20 cricket, which includes seven centuries - but his ability to inspire those around him, particularly the youngsters in the team is a major asset.
The right-hander has been particularly good at the Scorchers over the past few years, transforming the Western Australian franchise into a major force Down Under. The success of the team has, of course, been integral to this process where Klinger has been an instrumental figure, but he also played a big part in building the culture around the team.
“I am hoping too (make an impact),” Klinger said. “I have played plenty of cricket now, particularly T20 cricket both in the Big Bash and in other parts of the world.
Hopefully, not only from a cricket side of things, that I can help with, whether it is tactical wise, or with the young players, I am more than willing to assist.”@ZaahierAdams
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