McCle­naghan to se­lec­tors: Don’t for­get me

Herald on Sunday - - SPORT - Neil Reid

For­mer Black Caps pace bowler Mitchell McCle­naghan has told the na­tional se­lec­tors not to for­get about him in their Twenty20 plans.

McCle­naghan last wore the sil­ver fern in 2016, hav­ing ear­lier rep­re­sented New Zealand in 48 one-day in­ter­na­tion­als and 24 T20 clashes since his in­ter­na­tional de­but in 2012.

He has been miss­ing from the na­tional set-up since de­cid­ing in 2017 to forgo the op­tion of a New Zealand Cricket con­tract, opting in­stead to seek out con­tracts in the myr­iad of lu­cra­tive world T20 leagues.

High­lights of his T20 ca­reer in­clude be­ing a part of three vic­to­ri­ous In­dian Premier League cam­paigns with the Mum­bai In­di­ans.

Back in Auck­land while wait­ing for the cricket cir­cuit to be­gin post the Covid-19 pan­demic, the 34-year-old said he hadn’t given up hope of res­ur­rect­ing his in­ter­na­tional ca­reer, say­ing he had a de­sire to help the

Black Caps win the 2021 and 2022 T20 World Cups.

“I’ve been avail­able for New Zealand ev­ery day I have wo­ken up,” McCle­naghan told the Her­ald on Sun­day. “I’ve never been un­avail­able for white ball cricket.”

McCle­naghan’s de­ci­sion to turn down an NZC cen­tral con­tact saw him dubbed a “T20 mer­ce­nary”.

But the for­mer in­ter­na­tional — who be­came the fastest player to take 50 wick­ets for New Zealand in ODIs — opened up on the mo­ti­va­tion be­hind his move; which was driven by a de­sire to win ti­tles, and not just dol­lar signs.

“It is frus­trat­ing [hav­ing the mer­ce­nary tag] be­cause it’s not why I did what I did,” McCle­naghan said.

“I did what I did to be a bet­ter player, to win tour­na­ments for New Zealand or games for New Zealand in the fu­ture.

“I’m all about win­ning, I just want to win. [I saw] more op­por­tu­ni­ties to get out there and get bet­ter and prove my­self so I can con­trib­ute to any team around the world to win cham­pi­onships. That is vi­tal.”

McCle­naghan em­pha­sised his move was driven to be a bet­ter player “long-term” and also ex­tend his ca­reer in the lim­ited overs for­mats.

At the time, he re­alised there were

“six of seven blokes” ahead of him in terms to test cricket se­lec­tion, and then set him­self a goal of be­com­ing a T20 spe­cial­ist.

“It was about going out and get­ting as much T20 ex­pe­ri­ence as I could and play­ing ev­ery con­di­tion around the world. To not only play against the best play­ers, but to play against the best play­ers in their own con­di­tions,” he said.

Due to be­ing down the test peck­ing or­der, McCle­naghan said he had felt chas­ing con­tracts in T20 leagues around the world had of­fered the best op­tion to be­come the best crick­eter he could, and of­fer the Black Caps se­lec­tors a po­ten­tial spe­cialised match-win­ner in the short­ened ver­sion of the game.

“You could stay here in New Zealand and play do­mes­tic cricket — it is cool, it is nice to play for your home as­so­ci­a­tion,” he said. “But if you’re only going to play white ball cricket, then you’re only going to play 10 [pro­vin­cial] T20s a year.

“If you play on a cou­ple of these cir­cuits as well dur­ing the win­ter, you are play­ing up to 40 or 50 games a year; that’s five sea­sons in­ten­si­ty­wise of in­ter­na­tional cricket.”

McCle­naghan played for the Karachi Kings in the Pak­istan Su­per League and will again link with the Mum­bai In­di­ans in this year’s IPL; which will be hosted in the United Arab Emi­rates be­cause of the Covid19 pan­demic.

As well as try­ing to se­cure a fourth IPL ti­tle with Mum­bai, he is also hop­ing his ef­forts will push claims for a re­turn to the na­tional T20 team.

That in­cludes where his vast first­hand knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence at venues which will host T20 World Cup clashes in In­dia could come in handy.

“It is ob­vi­ously hard watch­ing the boys on TV, but I have started en­joy­ing it now,” he said. “There are guys I am real close with, and I’ve liked watch­ing them.

“Body-wise, I feel amaz­ing. I feel the best I have felt for three years. I’ll try to play un­til after the T20 World Cup in In­dia. If I can get my­self per­form­ing well, I can put some pres­sure on, that would be my goal to round off the ca­reer.”

Photo / Pho­to­sport

Mitchell McCle­naghan last played for the Black Caps in 2017.

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