Apr 072013
 

New Gloucestershire captain Michael Klinger accepts he will be required to act as a father confessor at times this season.

Commissioned to lead arguably the youngest squad of players in county cricket, the Australian will need to fall back upon all the considerable experience gleaned during a first-class career that is now in its 14th year.

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While acknowledging the burden of expectation that every overseas player must contend with during an English summer, the 32-year-old Victorian believes his biggest responsibility will be to nurture Gloucestershire’s young greenhorns.

Fielding a multitude of questions from the media on a Gloucestershire press day that resembled the first day of term at a sixth form college, Klinger spoke with genuine enthusiasm about the duty of care he has to players who, for the most part, are in their first or second season as first-class cricketers.

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“It is a big challenge and something I’m really looking forward to,” admitted the opening batsman, who was recruited on a two-year deal during the winter.

He added: “Because it is such a young squad, there will be a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of the older guys. There are three or four of us who will need to lead by example.

“I think with a young group, you have to expect results and performances to be up and down. I don’t expect them to be consistently good all the time.

“I appreciate there will be times when we have a poor session within a four-day game and it will be a matter of making sure we have more good ones than bad ones.

“I think the best thing for us is to live in the moment as much as possible. It is a case of trying to win the next hour, win the session, win the day’s play. That will go a long way towards results taking care of themselves and us being in the top half of the table going into the second half of the season.

“If we can minimise the bad days and build confidence, who knows where we could go with it?

“A lot of these guys have one or two years under their belts and I believe they will be better players for that experience. They will have learned a lot.

“The more game-time you have, the more rounded a player you are. They will make mistakes, for sure, but that is fine if they learn from them.”

Balancing the requirement of helping young cricketers with the need to perform himself is nothing new for Klinger, who performed a similar role as captain of South Australia in 2011 and 2012.

Switching allegiance from his native Victoria to South Australia in 2008/09 proved an inspired move for the right-handed bat. A series of stellar performances saw him awarded the captaincy in 2010, since when he has led the Redbacks to title successes in the Twenty20 Big Bash and the Ryobi One-Day Cup competition.

He told The Post: “I thoroughly enjoyed my time as captain of South Australia and we won a couple of titles in one-day cricket.

“When I took over there, it was a pretty similar set-up to Gloucestershire in as far as there were a lot of young players.

“There were one or two more experienced guys but, overall, it was a young group.

“My biggest responsibility there was to get the best out of the young players and it will be no different now I’m at Gloucestershire.

“I would like to think that I, along with a few of the senior players and John, can create an environment in which they can give of their best, enjoy their cricket and develop their game.

“At this stage of my career after 13 seasons, I’m ready to help the kids and put something back.

“I see it as part of my job to help young kids and that will be a key part of what I do here.”

Klinger received help and advice from numerous coaches and players when he launched his career in 1998 and he appreciates the role cricket’s elder statesmen have to play in developing the next generation.

He recalled: “There was no-one in particular, but a lot of coaches and players who helped and influenced me over a long period of time.

“When I first came into the Victorian squad as an 18 or 19-year-old, they had guys like Matthew Elliott and Brad Hodge who took me under their wing.

“I learned from that experience in terms of what I can do to help these youngsters at Gloucestershire.

“I can see how dealing with a senior player can be daunting for a young, inexperienced guy, but I’ve had a chat with the players and told them I’m an approachable person, someone they can come to for help rather than fear.

“That means on the field, if they have ideas of their own they want to get across, or off the field with non-cricketing matters.”

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