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'Could be start of something special' - Klinger

Michael Klinger described Gloucestershire's Royal London Cup win as "fantastic for the whole club" and said it was something for them to build on

Alan Gardner
Alan Gardner
Romance and drama. Gloucestershire's Royal London Cup victory had great big dollops of those two vital ingredients. As they inexorably undermined Surrey's run chase to secure the prize in the final over, it was tempting to imagine that the competition had regained, if only temporarily, some of the prestige the domestic one-day cups enjoyed during Gloucestershire's period of dominance between 1999 and 2004.
There were stories aplenty on both sides. Jade Dernbach's hat-trick and career-best figures, the bowling of 40-year-old Azhar Mahmood and, at the other end of his career, 17-year-old Sam Curran's valiant attempt to get Surrey over the line. For the victors, Geraint Jones' fairytale send-off, the all-round contributions of Jack Taylor - who was banned from bowling two years ago and faced the uncertainty of having to remodel his action - and the stunning triumph of an unheralded collective.
Gloucestershire had been glibly characterised as a one-man team in the build-up, dependent on their captain and opening batsman Michael Klinger. The Australian's personal tale is also a stirring one but his dismissal in the first over of the match meant Gloucestershire had to win their ninth Lord's final out of ten the hard way.
The manner in which they scrapped their way to a par score, based around the nous of an old-stager in Jones, and then throttled their opponents in the field was reminiscent of the Gloucestershire teams led by Mark Alleyne more than a decade ago. Klinger, who has agreed another two-year contract with the club, now has the chance to try and create a dynasty of his own.
"You don't want to look too far ahead but it could be the making of something special," he said. "Each team will get better and we need to get better so there is a lot of hard work to do. In this comp, unlike sometimes in the T20, we've performed really well under the pump.
"Knowing we can win in high pressure situations will serve the team well. It's fantastic for the whole club - the supporters, the members, those who work in the office - 11 years without a trophy, this will lift everyone going forward. It's a big achievement for the club and proud to be part of it."
Although Gloucestershire finished second in Group A, behind Surrey, their lack of recent success in limited-overs knockout competition meant they were largely unfancied. A narrow victory over Hampshire - winners of the 40-over Clydesdale Bank trophy in 2012 - in the last eight was followed by a more emphatic, Klinger-led triumph at Headingley against county champions Yorkshire to send them back to Lord's.
Success has come in Gloucestershire's first season under the new coaching team of Richard Dawson and Ian Harvey, and while Klinger admitted it was perhaps ahead of schedule he sensed it was something the group was ready for.
"You could probably say it's come a little bit quicker, but I said to the boys before the quarter-final sometimes you win them before you are ready - sometimes it's your time. I tried to put that message across, that it's our time. Now it's a great opportunity to build on that over the next couple of years and hopefully it will be a stepping stone. The previous coaching group worked really hard and now Richard Dawson and Ian Harvey have been brilliant and taken us to another level. The players have a willingness to work. It's a very proud moment to see how we've progressed."
Despite making a duck Klinger still finished atop the run-scoring charts, as his players successfully muzzled Jason Roy, Steven Davies and, after a clinical half-century seemed to have put Surrey on their way, Kumar Sangakkara. Without his runs to rely on, it made Gloucestershire's victory all the more impressive.
"I was just disappointed I didn't contribute at that stage," Klinger said. "I pride myself on scoring runs in big games, but not today but that's how cricket works. I was still very confident the boys would get the job done. They showed that 220 was just enough. To be honest I don't think anyone would have cared who did well today, so long as we finished on top."
He also had special praise for Man of the Match, Taylor, whose punchy innings helped Gloucestershire up to what turned out to be a winning score. He then took the crucial wickets of Sangakkara and Rory Burns in his 3 for 43 and held on to the final catch as Lord's erupted in an outburst of west country pride.
"Not only today, but all year in all formats - particularly the T20 and one-day stuff. He's won us games with the bat, his bowling has been very consistent and his fielding has improved a lot in the last two years. He's a serious all-round package. Today, under pressure, he got the job done. That cameo he played got us a total we needed. Then to bowl like he did was fantastic."

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick