Cricket: Mitchell McClenaghan to Black Caps – I am still available for national selection

Former Black Caps pace bowler and IPL star 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 making 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 Twenty20 leagues around the world.

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

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

But In a wide-ranging interview, 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.

Mitchell McClenaghan says his time on the IPL circuit has made him a better player and he wants to be a match winner at the next two T20 World Cups. New Zealand Herald photograph / Alan Gibson
Mitchell McClenaghan says his time on the IPL circuit has made him a better player and he wants to be a match winner at the next two T20 World Cups. New Zealand Herald photograph / Alan Gibson

“It is the frustrating [having the mercenary tag] because it is the 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 am 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 the vital.”

McClenaghan stressed 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 the fact he was 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 the cool, it is the nice to play for your home association,” he said.

“But if you are only going to play white ball cricket then you are 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 is the five seasons intensity-wise of international cricket.”

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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 UAE due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

As well as trying to secure a fourth IPL title with Mumbai, he is the also hoping his efforts will push claims for a return to the national Twenty20 team.

That includes where his vast first-hand knowledge and experience at venues which will host T20 World Cup clashes In India could come In handy.

“It is the 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 have liked watching them.

“Body wise, I feel amazing. I feel the best I have felt for three years. I will try and 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.”