County news December 18, 2012

Gloucs bring in Klinger as captain

Gloucestershire have ended their search for a new captain by agreeing terms with Michael Klinger, the experienced Australian top-order batsman, who will be available for the entire 2013 season.

Last season Gloucestershire finished bottom of the County Championship for the ninth time in their history, prompting Alex Gidman to step down.

With very little experience on their playing staff, the county looked overseas for a new appointment and were keen to find a player available for the entire season - ruling out both New Zealand batsman Kane Williamson and Australia opener Ed Cowan, who were both initial targets following previous stints at the club.

Klinger's availability, experience and ability are a rare combination. He has enjoyed a successful career since moving to South Australia from Victoria in 2008. A mediocre average of 26.44 since his debut in 2000 prompted a move away from his home state and he has since averaged 47.37 with eight centuries in four seasons.

His first season in Adelaide brought 1,203 runs at 70.76 and a second year of excellent returns saw Klinger made captain for the 2010/11 season, during which his form nosedived and South Australia finished bottom of the Sheffield Shield. His form returned last summer, bringing 835 runs at 46.38, but another wooden spoon, and a failure to win a single match, saw Klinger removed as captain.

Nevertheless, Gloucestershire's director of cricket John Bracewell said he was "delighted to be signing a player of Michael's quality and experience".

"He has proved himself adept at all forms of the game and has captaincy experience," Bracewell said. "We expect him to be available throughout the 2013 season. It is not easy to find overseas players who tick all those boxes and a lot of work has gone into finding the right man."

Klinger, 32, will be tasked with leading a young, inexperienced side with the county in a period of rebuilding on and off the pitch - Bristol is currently in the first phase of a £10 million redevelopment. He tasted the County Championship last season, playing seven matches for Worcestershire, scoring 413 runs including a century.

His top-order experience will be very welcome for a county that failed to nail down a consistent opening pair last season, using six combinations. Young wicketkeeper Richard Coughtrie found little success, Chris Dent - a player with much potential - missed most of the season with a finger and then a shoulder injury - trialist-turned-new signing Benny Howell failed to live up to early promise, veteran Jon Batty was restored to open the innings for one match and brief overseas signings Cowan and Rob Nicol came and went.