Klinger the epitome of mental toughness: JL | Big Bash League BBL
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Klinger the epitome of mental toughness: JL

02 January 2018

Scorchers veteran top scores in thrilling win over Sixers even as family crisis puts cricket into perspective

Michael Klinger has come to embody Western Australian cricket's mantra of hard work and selflessness perhaps more so than anyone, and one small but telling moment on New Year's Day showed why he's held in such high esteem.

The 37-year-old veteran might have been forgiven for indulging himself a little after peeling off a player-of-the-match knock of 83 when he was dismissed in sight of the Scorchers' fourth-straight victory at the WACA.

With his wife Cindy – who Klinger last month revealed had been diagnosed with breast cancer in a heartfelt open letter to Scorchers fans – watching on at the ground with their children Bailey and Summer, no-one would have begrudged the veteran a brief second or two to soak in the biggest cheer of the night and seek out his family in the crowd.

But when Klinger holed out in the penultimate over with the game still in the balance, his first thought was about his team.

Specifically it was about his batting partner Tim David, a 21-year-old playing his first senior domestic match, who was suddenly the main man in a high-pressure run chase.

Match Highlights: Klinger scorches Sixers

Klinger doubled back to the debutant and passed on some sage advice.

"I just mentioned to Timmy that the ball I got out on … I didn't get any of it and it still almost went for six," Klinger told Channel 10.

"(I told him) just to keep backing himself. If you get three-quarters of it, it's going to go, because he's certainly more powerful than me."

On his way off the ground, Klinger also stopped incoming captain Adam Voges to pass on some more words.

His impulse to think of others first and himself later was plain to see.

Two balls after Klinger's departure, David smashed a booming straight six to leave the hosts needing nine off the final over, before Voges did the rest when he hit his first legal delivery for six.

Klinger has been the perfect fit for Western Australia and the Scorchers since crossing from South Australia in 2014 with his career at the crossroads, and coach Justin Langer is still incredulous he fell into his lap.

"He's amazing. Honestly, I keep pinching myself that he's playing in Western Australia," Langer said.

"We got him a few years ago, I couldn't believe it then and still can't believe it now. Unbelievable.

"He just showed it again tonight, that's what champions do and that's the epitome of mental toughness, what he's doing at the moment."

Terrific Turner plays key role in win

As his wife bravely fights a battle that's put his profession into perspective, Klinger's availability for the Scorchers remains a game-to-game proposition, an uncommon situation that has been fully endorsed by the Scorchers.

Initially hesitant to leave Cindy's side, Klinger missed the Scorchers' BBL|07 season opener but has resumed with his family's blessing. 

"To be honest, my wife and family have been kicking me out the door to go to games," a smiling Klinger said.

"They've been adamant they want to keep things at home as normal as possible for her and also our kids.

"The three hours out here – this is the time mentally I rejuvenate. Then I go home and fight (on) again with my wife and family back home.

"That's the way it is, the way the cards have been dealt but hopefully things go well over the next five or six months."

Scorchers paceman Andrew Tye said the BBL's all-time leading run-scorer has handled the devastating news in unwavering fashion.

"You could see how much it meant to 'Maxy' for us to get over the line," Tye told cricket.com.au.

"He's been awesome. Maxi's one of the best guys to have in the changerooms, nothing from that aspect has changed.

Voges seals Scorchers win after Abbott wide

"There would have been a big celebration (from his family) when he made his 50, he went that way (in his acknowledgment of the milestone) and when the game was over he showed a lot of emotion.

"He's dealing with a lot off the park and no-one wants him to be in that situation. With the added emotional value, he's going to be even harder to stop."

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Perth Scorchers BBL

Michael Klinger