MICHAEL Klinger’s ability to stay cool as a cucumber in the pressure cooker atmosphere of the Big Bash League has helped the Perth Scorchers stay in the top half of the table with just three rounds remaining.
The experienced Jewish opening batsman was named man of the match after the Scorchers’ nail-biting win against the Melbourne Renegades inside a packed Etihad Stadium on December 29.
In pursuit of a target of 148, Klinger top scored with 72 runs from just 55 balls to get Perth off to a solid start before a mini collapse began.
Needing to score three runs off the final ball, Ashton Agar smashed a six to get the Scorchers home.
Afterwards, Klinger and Agar credited the win to each other.
“He (Agar) was probably the best person to be on strike for that ball,” Klinger said.
“I’d love to see a video of the reaction of us on the bench – I know I jumped probably higher than I have in 10 years.”
Agar said “the credit can’t go to me – Michael Klinger batted like a genius. ‘Maxy’ kept a cool head the whole time.”
Klinger again played a crucial, but different, role in the Scorchers’ comfortable 50-run win against the Sydney Thunder on January 1 in front of a sold-out crowd at the WACA, which Scorchers fans like to call The Furnace.
After chipping in with a handy 38 runs of 32 balls to help Perth set a challenging total of 4/177 on the back of fine knocks by Ian Bell (45) and Mitch Marsh (44 not out), Klinger was suddenly handed the captaincy role mid-match after Adam Voges suffered a hamstring strain.
The 36-year-old embraced the challenge, brought in the field after David Willey removed both of the Renegades’ opening batsmen for a combined 14 runs, and alternated his fast, swing and spin bowlers to great effect to restrict the visitors to 8/127.
Hooked up via an earpiece microphone to Channel Ten’s commentary team for several live crosses, Klinger was all smiles and clearly enjoying the big game atmosphere.
“Being thrown the captaincy duties was not something I expected to happen out here today,” he said.
“When you have bowlers all following their plans, it certainly makes the job easier.”
That win elevated the Scorchers into first place, but a loss at home to the Brisbane Heat on January 5 dropped them into second.
They play the Heat again, in Brisbane, on January 11.