Mitchell McClenaghan: A Twenty20 Hot Ticket

Two summers ago you might have been forgiven for pigeon-holing Mitchell McClenaghan as a promising First-Class left-arm pace bowler - and thinking that was probably his limit.

Fortunately cricketers themselves never think that way. After moving from Central Districts to the Auckland Aces at the beginning of last season and zeroing in big-time on his physical conditioning and consistency, McClenaghan was one of the top performers for the Aces in both the Ford Trophy and Plunket Shield.

In fact, only the Wellington Firebirds' BLACKCAP Andy McKay took more wickets in last summer's Ford Trophy (McKay with 18, McClenaghan 16), while in the Plunket Shield McClenaghan's 8-23 against the shell-shocked Otago Volts was the standout domestic First-Class bowling performance of 2011/12.

Yet he still couldn't break his way into the Aces' HRV Cup Twenty20 side, which just goes to emphasise what a fantastic start the 26-year-old has made to his BLACKCAPS career this season.

Having made both his Twenty20 and One-Day International debuts on tour in South Africa and contributing six wickets to the BLACKCAPS maiden series victory on South African soil, "Mitch" showed everyone just what he can do. He powered into top gear against England in the BLACKCAPS 55-run ANZ Twenty20 victory at Seddon Park, Hamilton - a brilliant win that sees the ANZ Twenty20 International Series Trophy decided at Wellington's Westpac Stadium this Friday night. 

Tall and strongly-built, the new pace performer is a firm believer in the old cricketing adage of keeping it simple. "As long as you prepare well and you really focus on what your role is in the game, then you can go in with a lot of confidence," says McClenaghan.

"You've got to go hard every single ball in Twenty20 cricket and the guys showed good aggression and good intensity in our win in Hamilton. My role is to take two wickets in the front six overs (which he did in consecutive balls, in the second over), so I was really pleased to have had an effect and it was great having Butts (Ian Butler) come in after me to continue that aggression. He really had a fantastic game."

Performing strongly helps any relatively new player to find their feet, but McClenaghan also pays tribute to the way he was made feel comfortable in the BLACKCAPS squad from the moment he joined them en route to South Africa.

"That's a massive credit to the way Mike Hesson, Mike Sandle and Brendon McCullum have welcomed me into the team, while Shane Bond has been a brilliant person to talk to about plans and little ways to improve my game.

"My goal now is to really push for a place in the BLACKCAPS One-Day International team. The ICC World Cup is obviously coming up on the international calendar, it's here in 2015 and I really want to be part of that side. I want to establish myself and have 20 to 30 ODIs under my belt by then."

Meantime, he's already pumped for this Friday evening's final ANZ Twenty20 against England in Wellington.

"With this game being a decider, having a big home crowd behind us will be a factor and we're hoping that Wellington will get down to the stadium to support us. We had fantastic support for the win in Hamilton and we'd love to have the Wellington crowd right there behind us too."

Cricket isn't all there is to McClenaghan's talents, by the way. Having graduated from Auckland University with a commerce degree in marketing and accounting, he's also a part-time model over the off-season and a finalist in the running for CLEO Magazine's hotly-contested Bachelor of the Year competition, the winner to be revealed on 5 April.

Check out Mitch's modelling credentials here
And let's all us cricket supporters get in behind and vote for him here:

With Thanks To

ANZ Ford
Burger King Tui CCC Powerade Caltex 2 Degrees GJ Gardner BLK
Sky Pitch Radio Sport TAB Accor Hotels Les Mills