MICHAEL Klinger reflected on one of the finest twenty20 innings ever played at Bristol and insisted: ‘I would have preferred to make a duck and win the game.’
The Gloucestershire captain was speaking after hitting an unbeaten 101 against Hampshire on Friday evening, only to see the visitors win a rain affected NatWest Blast South Group match by 24 runs under the Duckworth-Lewis Stern system.
Only Chris Gayle, with an amazing 18, has now made more twenty20 hundreds than Klinger, who reached three figures in the format for the seventh time in his career off just 56 balls, with 6 sixes and 7 fours, his second fifty coming off just 19 deliveries.
He played out a maiden to Liam Dawson in the fifth over of the game, which made his strike-rate all the more remarkable. The next highest score in Gloucestershire’s innings of 174 for five was Thisara Perera’s 26 not out at the end. But any pleasure Klinger took from his extraordinary knock was tempered when Hampshire raced to 121 for three off 11.4 overs in reply, 24 runs ahead of where they needed to be when driving rain ended a match already reduced to 19 overs per side.
The experienced Australian said: ‘It was nice to get some runs and at a decent rate, but it is never as good doing it in a losing team.
‘We have had so many washouts that it has been hard to gain any momentum, but I was pleased with the way I was able to accelerate as the innings progressed.
‘As an opening batsman in twenty20 you have to take risks and sometimes you get out. I have been feeling good, with a fifty in the previous game, and tonight things worked out.’
One of Klinger’s sixes, over mid-wicket off a Chris Wood full-toss in the penultimate over, sent the ball sailing out of the ground. He reached his ton with another maximum, sweetly struck over extra cover off Gareth Berg. Sadly, his Gloucestershire team-mates could not find anything like the same level of form and Klinger pulled no punches over the performance.
He said: ‘We need to be better than that because otherwise we are not going to get beyond the group stage of the competition.
‘Although we finished our innings well, we could have batted better as a group in the first ten overs and that is something we need to look at.
‘We probably needed a score of 190-plus. Both Hampshire spinners bowled really well, but we have to play spin better at Bristol.’ Some contentious decisions went against Gloucestershire. Kieran Noema-Barnett was caught off a short delivery from Wood that looked suspiciously like a no-ball for height, while when Hampshire skipper James Vince pulled a catch to mid-wicket off a similar delivery from Matt Taylor a no-ball was signalled.
The visitors were also given the benefit of the doubt when Ian Cockbain drilled a low catch to Vince at mid-off, the ball almost being taken on the half-volley. Klinger declined to comment on the decisions. ‘Rilee Rossouw and James Vince are world class twenty20 cricketers,’ he said. ‘Once Vince was given not out because of a no-ball, he got himself going and we couldn’t stop them’
Hampshire were always ahead on DLS when they batted. Much of their innings was played with rain pouring down and umpires Billy Taylor and Nigel Cowley had no option but to end proceedings with 7.2 overs left. As a drenched crowd headed for the exits, Cliff Richard’s ‘Summer Holiday’ blared out over the public address system.