Michael Klinger is in line for an international debut at the age of 36 after being named in Australia’s T20 squad to take on Sri Lanka in three matches this month. Wicketkeeper Tim Paine was also picked, nearly six years after he last represented Australia in any format, while the uncapped fast bowler Jhye Richardson and allrounder Ashton Turner are also hoping for debuts.
However, the selectors could not find a place for the Big Bash League’s leading run scorer for this season, the Adelaide Strikers batsman Ben Dunk, who plundered 364 runs at 52.00. Nor could they find room for the BBL’s leading wicket taker, Sean Abbott, who collected 20 victims at 16.15 for the Sydney Sixers.
A number of first-choice T20 players were unavailable for this squad as they will be in India preparing for a Test series, which begins the day after this T20 series finishes. Thus Aaron Finch will captain a team missing Steven Smith, David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Glenn Maxwell, among others.
The selection of Klinger comes after he was the third-leading run scorer in this summer’s BBL; he is also the all-time leading run scorer in BBL cricket, with 1608 runs at 36.54. He will be Australia’s second-oldest debutant in any format in the past 30 years; only Bryce McGain was older on his 2009 Test debut.
“With Australia currently ranked number six in this format and with a number of our frontline players preparing for the India Test series, we have chosen a squad with a good blend of experience combined with several younger players in an effort to improve our performance and therefore our ICC T20 ranking,” national selector Trevor Hohns said.
“The influence of younger players in this squad also gives us the opportunity to look forward to the ICC World T20, which is being hosted here in Australia in 2020. The overall standards being set in the BBL are very high and many of these players are making a good impression, but consistency was key for the selectors on this occasion.
“On Michael Klinger’s selection, he has been a very good player in this form of the game for some time now. 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.”
Paine is another prolific BBL scorer – eighth on the all-time run list, though 14th this year – and this series will mark a long-awaited return to international cricket for him. He has not played for Australia in any format since the ODI tour of Bangladesh in April 2011, and his last T20 international had come against England in January of the same year.
“Tim Paine has been included as the batsman/wicketkeeper, adding to the more experienced players like captain Finch, Henriques, Faulkner and Tye, all of whom have consistent success across multiple summers of the BBL, as well as experience on the international stage,” Hohns said.
“Both Travis Head and Chris Lynn were exceptional with the bat this summer and Chris’s selection will depend on his fitness. He is due to see a specialist later this week and we will take into account that advice ahead of this series.
“Ashton Turner, Adam Zampa, Pat Cummins, Jhye Richardson and Billy Stanlake round off the bowlers in the squad, all maintaining a balance of excellent economy and wickets in this format, which is essential for a winning side.”
Richardson, 20, has only one first-class match to his name for Western Australia, but impressed the national selectors with 11 wickets at 20.18 in the BBL this season. Turner, 24, is an offspinning allrounder who took only five wickets this BBL season and scored 123 runs.
Hohns also responded to recent comments from Victoria batsman Cameron White, who this week expressed concern that the Australia team was at times being treated as a development side.
“I’m a little bit surprised by those comments, to be quite honest,” Hohns told reporters in Adelaide. “The Sheffield Shield has been well-documented as being very important to us in Australian cricket – selectors, everybody.
“And then younger players – I think he just needs to remember that he was a very young man when he was given his first opportunity in one-day cricket. I don’t think there is any disparity there at all, to be honest. Cameron has had plenty of opportunities … he has had plenty of opportunities in the past and it’s probably fair to say performed okay without being earth-shattering.”
Squad Aaron Finch (capt), Michael Klinger, Travis Head, Chris Lynn, Moises Henriques, Ashton Turner, Tim Paine (wk), James Faulkner, Pat Cummins, Adam Zampa, Andrew Tye, Jhye Richardson, Billy Stanlake.