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Marcus Stoinis must be dropped for the World Cup opener

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Expert
28th May, 2019
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Many pundits have selected Marcus Stoinis in the Auusie line-up to meet Afghanistan at Bristol in a day-nighter to kick off the defending champions’ World Cup defence.

That translates to either Usman Khawaja or Shaun Marsh carrying the drinks.

On what grounds?

They explain Australia has only four recognised bowlers – Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Jason Behrendorff or Nathan Coulter-Nile, and leggie Adam Zampa – making Stoinis the fifth for ten overs apiece.

Afghanistan would welcome that with open arms, as Stoinis has claimed just 3-137, average 45.67, in the four games he’s played in the lead-up, with a combination of full tosses and half-track rubbish.

Stoinis’ batting is just as bad, scoring 75 in four visits to average 19.75.

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But both Khawaja and Marsh have been among the runs – Khawaja 208 at 41.60, Marsh 194 at 38.80.

Usman Khawaja of Australia hits a shot

Usman Khawaja’s ready for a World Cup tilt. (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

End of discussion: Stoinis to carry the drinks, at best.

The more intriguing and realistic selections will be the opening batting partners, and where the one who misses out of David Warner, Aaron Finch and Khawaja bats – the rest of the order virtually looks after itself.

The selectors have made it difficult for themselves by shuffling the batting order over the six preparation games, like a pack of cards.

Only Finch and wicketkeeper Alex Carey have been in the same slot – one and seven.

In between Warner has batted three or opener; Khawaja at opener, first drop and five; Steve Smith and Marsh have both batted at three, four and five; while Glenn Maxwell has played both four and six.

Finch fell on Monday night leg-before for 11, returning to the bad old days when his head was outside the line, and he plain missed a straight delivery.

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If push came to shove, there would be a strong argument to have Warner, one of the most dangerous opening batsmen in any format, to open with Khawaja.

In spite of the obvious, the selectors look like retaining the Finch-Khawaja pairing, which was so successful while Warner was serving his 12-month suspension.

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But Warner is back, so make the most of his return, and open him with captain Finch, who has no intention of batting anywhere else.

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That leaves Khawaja at three, Smith four, Marsh five, Maxwell six, and Carey seven.

The batting is strong, but there are only four places left for the attack, meaning Maxwell, or a combination of Maxwell, Finch and Smith to bowl ten overs between them.

Either way, it’s far better than Stoinis bowling and weakening the batting.

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