Delighted Klinger eyes hometown debut

Back where it all began in his city of birth, the veteran right-hander is lapping up every minute of being in the national squad

Michael Klinger says he is just soaking up the opportunity to be part of an Australian squad as he prepares for a possible hometown international debut at the MCG on Friday night.

Klinger, who begun his first-class career with Victoria before moving to South Australia and then Western Australia, is one of three members of Australia’s 13-man squad in line for a debut in the KFC INTL series opener against Sri Lanka.

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And although his international call-up came with 16 of the country’s best players unavailable for selection, nothing is going to put a dampener on the veteran batsman's maiden experience in national colours.

While there are two very different Australia teams currently preparing for two very different challenges – with the T20 squad in Melbourne while the Test players prepare for their four-match tour of India in Mumbai – Klinger insists there’s still plenty at stake for him and his new teammates as they take on Sri Lanka in Melbourne, Geelong and Adelaide.

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“Some of the bigger name guys aren’t around, but everyone who gets an opportunity will give it their best shot,” he said on Thursday.

“I can say for me personally, I couldn’t care more about this than anything else.

“It’s a great opportunity for me to represent my country and the other 10 guys who run out on the field tomorrow, we’ll be doing our best to win the series.”

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Touted as a potential Australian representative for more than two decades only to be overlooked time and time again, Klinger said it was ‘a dream come true’ that the timing had finally worked in his favour.

The 36-year-old is refusing to look any further ahead than the next three matches as he simply laps up the chance to finally be part of an Australian squad.

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“We’ll just get through this three-game series first," Klinger said.

“Obviously there are some players unavailable in India and my timing was right this time, other times it hasn’t been.

“I’ll hopefully perform well in this series and we’ll see what happens after that.

“In terms of this whole week, I’m just going to enjoy it. It’s taken awhile for me to get this opportunity.

“I lapped up training yesterday, getting throwdowns from (assistant coach) Ricky Ponting, who I looked up to as a youngster.

“I’m just trying to enjoy this week but I’ll also focus hard at game times and try to perform well.”

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Should that long-awaited debut come on Friday, the chance to play at the MCG in front of friends and family would make the experience even more special for Melbourne-born Klinger.

“The WACA is my home ground but all of my family, other than my wife and kids who are flying to Melbourne tonight, are based in Melbourne," said Klinger.

“I grew up and went to school in Melbourne, it’s great not only for me but for (those people) who’ve supported me over a long period of time.

“It would be great to get that first game in Melbourne.”

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A final XI has yet to be revealed for Friday’s match, but Klinger is eyeing off a spot at the top of the order alongside captain Aaron Finch.

“That’s where I’ve batted for a long period in Twenty20 cricket," he said.

“Aaron Finch is a class opener so if it works out it would be great to open with him.”

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And while the right-hander says ‘never say never’ to the thought of one day earning a Baggy Green, he admits that these days he’s realistic about his chances.

“In Test cricket they’re looking in a new direction so it’s going to be tough work," Klinger conceded.

“Now I’m at an older age I’m a lot more realistic about these things, so I’m just trying to enjoy it now.”