Sport Cricket The 36-year-old set to make his long-awaited national debut

The 36-year-old set to make his long-awaited national debut

Michael Klinger starred for Perth in the Big Bash League. Photo: Getty
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Michael Klinger admitted to fighting back tears after he was finally included in an Australian squad.

The 36-year-old, who has dominated domestic cricket in recent years, was a popular inclusion in a 13-man squad for this month’s three-match Twenty20 international series against Sri Lanka.

With the series to take place at the same time the Test team prepares for a tour of India, it means the likes of regular skipper Steve Smith, David Warner and Mitchell Starc will play no part, with Aaron Finch to deputise as captain of an inexperienced side.

He is likely to open the batting with Klinger, who was elated when speaking with the press.

“It’s really exciting and I’m pretty pumped to be honest,” he told reporters.

“It’s been 15, 16 years of hard work and it’s great to get some reward now.

I called my wife first [after finding out]. I held back the tears, to be honest, until I spoke to her. It was hard to keep the tears away.

“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.”

Interim chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns said Klinger’s form made him too hard to ignore.

“He [Klinger] has been a very good player in this form of the game for some time now,” he said.

“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, who made 334 runs in this year’s Big Bash League, was widely considered as one of the unluckiest cricketers to never play for Australia.

His batting averages in first-class cricket (39.73) and one-day cricket (48.86) are impressive but it is his Twenty20 average — 38.76 at a strike rate of 127.02 — that stands out.

Perth Scorchers duo Jhye Richardson and Ashton Turner could make their debuts for Australia in the series, while Hobart Hurricanes’ Tim Paine will keep wicket.

Hohns re-iterated that regular good form in the Big Bash League, over many seasons, played a significant role in the selection.

This year’s best performers — Ben Dunk (364 runs) and Sean Abbott (20 wickets) — were not included in the squad.

Hobart’s Tim Paine will wear the gloves. Photo: Getty

“Tim Paine has been included as the batsman/wicketkeeper, adding to the more experienced players like captain Finch, [Moises] Henriques, [James] Faulkner and [Andrew] Tye, all of whom have consistent success across multiple summers of the BBL, as well as experience on the international stage,” he added.

Brisbane Heat slogger Chris Lynn was also picked, but his selection “will depend on his fitness” after he injured his neck in January.

The series begins at the MCG on February 17, with other matches to be played at Geelong’s Kardinia Park and the Adelaide Oval.

Australia squad: Aaron Finch (captain), Patrick Cummins, James Faulkner, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Michael Klinger, Chris Lynn, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Billy Stanlake, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa

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