'Aussie' McClenaghan right at home in BBL
Former Black Caps quick has a strong bond this side of the Tasman and can't wait to get started with the Sydney Thunder
5 October 2017, 03:17 PM AEST
Sydney Thunder's new overseas recruit Mitchell McClenaghan could well pass as a local given his Aussie upbringing and close circle of friends.
The New Zealander was today announced as the Thunder's first international signing ahead of this season's KFC Big Bash League, but the left-armer has a number of ties to the country he'll call home for six weeks this summer.
"We moved over when I was quite young, I think I was about three living in Townsville for three years and then four years in Inverell in NSW," McClenaghan said on Thursday.
"If we wanted to go and play soccer we'd have to drive three hours. We were massive into swimming, I remember getting up early and driving down to Sydney to do state championships down here in Sydney.
"Fond memories of growing up here."
The 31-year-old has made some Aussie mates too.
As a Twenty20 gun-for-hire these days after giving up his New Zealand Cricket central contract this winter, McClenaghan has shared dressing rooms with Ricky Ponting, Shane Watson and Mitchell Johnson, just to name a few.
And it's the relationship with the latter, McClenaghan's namesake and fellow slinging southpaw, that has developed faster than the deliveries the pair fire down.
"He's cracking, he's awesome," McClenaghan says of Johnson.
"I came over here and played a bit of cricket when I was a youngster straight out of school, played on the Gold Coast for a bit.
"And I remember changing my action to bowl like Mitch. I made my first-class debut with Mitch's action and it's kind of evolved from there.
"I got my first first-class wicket off a wide full toss to point.
"I probably emulated him probably a little too well. At that point I realised I needed to change," he added, grinning.
"To meet him at Mumbai (playing together in the Indian Premier League) was bloody awesome, I was s***ting myself. I was just hoping he was going to be a good bloke … he's an absolute gem.
"We got on like a house on fire. I think he's having separation issues at the moment, I get the odd message from him."
McClenaghan has spent three seasons with Mumbai, winning titles in 2015 and again this year alongside Johnson.
In that first year he was coached by Ponting, and the Australia champion certainly left a mark.
"(Ponting) is the ultimate competitor, he holds everyone to the highest standard," McClenaghan said.
"On the field with training but also he's incredibly easy to approach, talk things through and have time for everyone.
"I found that amazing, particularly being in that kind of environment. Ricky had the same time for someone like Rohit Sharma as he had for a young lad who hasn't played for Mumbai yet.
"He put as much time into everyone, to balance that and be the legend that he is is outstanding."
While Ponting was his Australian coach, Watson will be his Australian captain this summer, and the two already have a brewing chemistry that's based around, well, chemistry.
"We have a running issue in terms of what we think makes good coffee," he says.
"Watto thinks it's the beans and I think it's the milk.
"Coffee's obviously better in New Zealand because we've got better milk. I'm sure we'll slug that battle out as we go on.
"I'm really excited about working with him.
"Some of the theories that we spoke about in the Caribbean (as teammates in the Caribbean Premier League) that he's going to execute here with Patty (Upton, Thunder coach) and all the other management staff.
"We'll definitely be one of the best prepared teams out there."
All of these experiences and relationships have culminated in McClenaghan playing more like an aggressive Aussie rather than his more subdued New Zealand natives.
"I learned a lot of attributes growing up in (Australia) initially," he says.
"One of them was to play hard but play fair and have that competitive streak of wanting to win, and that hasn't died.
"That's potentially something that I've got a little bit different to a lot of New Zealanders, I'll outwardly go out there and want to win and show that I want to win and show that passion and that fight.
"New Zealanders can potentially be a little bit more reserved. It's probably the Aussie that's rubbed off on me."