BBL king goes out on top

Michael Klinger enjoying a big sendoff in Perth after the Perth Scorchers’ BBL win last Sunday. Photo: AAP Image/Richard Wainwright

MICHAEL Klinger’s emotional Scorchers farewell at Perth Stadium on Sunday night was a fitting finale to one of the most decorated Australian domestic careers in the modern era, but it almost didn’t happen, and was it officially the end?

After a lean start to BBL08 by his own lofty standards, the 38-year-old was dropped from the struggling Scorchers who were facing their first finals absence.

The veteran opener was left on the outer with five matches remaining, with a late-season return looming unlikely as the franchise welcomed back the Marsh brothers from national duties and opted for an injection of youth.

Klinger’s footprint on the Scorchers and domestic cricket prompted former teammate and Perth coach Adam Voges to offer the club stalwart a farewell game at home, which he knocked back.

“I said unless I’m in the best XI, I probably didn’t want to do it, because I didn’t feel like taking someone’s spot was the right thing to do,” Klinger said.

But the cricket gods had other plans, with a hamstring injury to Shaun Marsh paving the way for Klinger to receive the send-off he deserved.

And he wasn’t just making up the numbers. A knock of 30 and a crucial 47-run opening stand with Josh Inglis set the foundations for the Scorchers’ upset 27-run win over the finals-bound Melbourne Stars.

In the process, Klinger also reclaimed his crown as the BBL’s all-time leading run-scorer, after Brisbane Heat’s Chris Lynn pinched the title off him briefly a few nights earlier.

With his family in the crowd, ‘Maxy’ was given a standing ovation from the almost 17,000-strong Perth crowd as he walked off after being dismissed.

Klinger removed his helmet, kissed the Scorchers badge, saluted to the crowd with his Gray-Nicolls blade before being embraced by his teammates in the dugout.

Moments after his final home innings, he was interviewed byChannel 7.

“It’s pretty emotional to see the crowd and my family up there – I have to try not to cry. The sport has been great to me, and for the last five years I’ve been here [Perth] I’ve really enjoyed it,” he said.

“There’s been so many highlights – definitely the two biggest were winning two [BBL] titles, and hitting the winning runs in one of them in front of a home crowd was just awesome.”

Following the Scorchers’ victory, Klinger’s teammates chaired him off the ground, once again to a rapturous and standing audience.

“It was really special. It was great to get a win, the boys carrying me off at the end and the round of applause from the crowd was something I will rememberforever,” Klinger said post-match.

“It was a great moment for the family, my dad and niece flew over from Melbourne, and Cindy was here with the kids. So to have them all here was really special. “Thank you to all the Perth Scorchers fans for your support, you made this night extremely special.”

Fans, former teammates and opponents took to social mediato congratulate Klinger on his career, many using the hashtag ‘King Klinger’, which was trending on twitter.

Teammate and Scorchers vice-captain Ashton Turner told Channel 7, Klinger’s “been a warhorse and such a great servant to WA cricket and to the other states he’s played at before. I know personally, and I know all my teammates, couldn’t thank himenough for everything he’s done. It’s nice that we had a win for Maxy tonight.”

Voges also highlighted Klinger’s impact on the franchise, and wished him well for the future. “Maxy’s contribution to the Perth Scorchers has been outstanding.

On the field his record speaks for itself and he has played a huge part in our success in recent years.

“Off the field you will not meet a nicer person who always puts the team’s needs ahead of his own. We wish Maxy, Cindy and the family all the best for the future.”

And as for the future, Klinger announced that BBL08 would be his last with the Scorchers, not exclusively from the whole competition, leaving the door ajar for a

ninth season with a third franchise if one was to come knocking. Despite being farewelled in front of his adopted home crowd, thereis still a chance that Klinger could

don the Perth colours one last time, in the Scorchers’ final match of the season, fittingly against his old club, Adelaide Strikers on Saturday.

“Hopefully I get another game next week in Adelaide but it was a great way to say goodbye to the home crowd and to get a win was even more special.”

One thing that is certain is his return to County Club Gloucestershire for a seventh T20 Blast season from July to September, where he will captain the side and take on a new role as batting consultant across all formats.

AARON FETTER

 

MICHAEL KLINGER – BBL BY THE NUMBERS

Titles: BBL04 & 06

Matches: 71 (equal #2) for Adelaide Strikers & Perth Scorchers 2011-2019

Runs: 1947 (#1) at an average of 30.42, & strike rate of 118

Highest score: 105 not out, 1×100, 12x50s, 187x4s, 37x6s, 25 catches

Highest partnership: 171* (equal #2) with Shaun Marsh vs Renegades, BBL05