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'It was hard to keep the tears away' - Klinger

Michael Klinger is the all-time leading run-scorer in the Big Bash League Cricket Australia

It was the moment Michael Klinger thought might never come. When his state coach Justin Langer - who is also Australia's stand-in coach for the upcoming T20 series against Sri Lanka - pulled Klinger aside before Western Australia state training on Tuesday, the news was good. Klinger was in Australia's squad. After 19 seasons at the elite level, he would play for his country.

Klinger's call-up was the long-awaited reward for a career of consistent and prolific run-scoring. Western Australia is his third state - he debuted for Victoria, then captained South Australia - and his national debut will come at the age of 36, with more than 22,000 runs to his name at combined first-class, List A and T20 level.

He has been around so long that his first-class debut came in the 1990s. Klinger was also part of Australia's squad at the Under-19 World Cup in 1997-98, along with players such as Marcus North and James Hopes, and is the only member of that group still playing at state level. Twice, in 2009 and 2010, Klinger was Australia's Domestic Cricketer of the Year, and he is the BBL's all-time leading scorer.

"It's certainly exciting times," Klinger told reporters in Adelaide on Wednesday. "It was great for JL to come and tell me at the start of training, and then speaking to Trevor [national selector Trevor Hohns] - I couldn't ask for anything more. It's been 15, 16 years of hard work and it's great to get some reward now. Exciting is probably the best word.

"I called my wife first. I held back the tears, to be honest, until I spoke to her. JL gave me a big hug, and it was hard to keep the tears away after I spoke to her. Then I called my brother and my dad and my sister. It's a moment, I wasn't sure if it was going to come. That half an hour when I got to speak to my family, I'll treasure forever."

Klinger lost his mother Susan to cancer in 2005, and he said she too would have been proud of his achievement. Klinger said that although he might have given up hope of winning a baggy green in recent times, T20 cricket was a very different proposition.

"Maybe the last 12 months in terms of Test cricket-wise, they've looked to go in a new direction, and that's fine," Klinger said. "But Twenty20 cricket you generally pick the guys who are in form."

Klinger appears likely to partner Australia's stand-in captain Aaron Finch at the top of the order in the three T20s against Sri Lanka later this month. At 36, he will be Australia's oldest ever debutant in T20 internationals; Glenn McGrath and Brad Hogg were both 35 when they debuted back in 2005 and 2006 respectively.