The basis for any cricket match is simple: the team that makes the most runs wins games.
Eden Park in Auckland in early 2017 witnessed the birth of Marcus Stoinis, the all-rounder.
In what proved to be an absolute humdinger, the West Australian dragged Australia along with him when they looked in the doldrums with bat an ball.
In subsequent years Stoinis kept himself busy trying to fill the shoes of his fellow countrymen who have prevented his side plummeting in clusters, and the seeds were sown in just his second game.
However, Stoinis has ridden on this one extraordinary knock over the past two years. On all occasions the team banked on Stoinis there was one typical result: he was hardly able to steer Australia past the finish line. Yes, he’s a hard hitter capable of clearing any boundary cleanly. He can jog through to take the singles, but sometimes he plays a bit more cautiously than he needs to.
This is why Stoinis’s contribution rarely results in an Australian victory. The reality is Australia’s wobbly ODI outfit has been searching for a crisis-proof lower-order batsman, and before Stoinis got mixed into things, the responsibility lay mainly with James Faulkner.
Michael Bevan and Michael Hussey discovering what it means to be a finisher and scripting some unbelievable triumphs further enhanced the importance of the role, but the thing that separated Stoinis from the above two men is their extraordinary running between the wickets.
The greatest chasers and the finishers in the game bank not only on their ability to regularly put the ball outside the park but also take it until the end. Skilled hitting occupies the most substantial part of their game. When batting with the tailenders, scampering the ones and twos, converting the latter into one more and equally committing to find the boundary can be fruitful.
In contrast, Stoinis’s pure hits could rarely be doubted. However, getting into that rhythm requires a skill of its own, one that largely went missing in the latter part of his career. The brunt of this slump doesn’t sit solely with Stoinis; Australia’s search for another Michael Bevan became more intense in light of their middle-order batsmen falling apart.
Unlike Stoinis, his predecessors Bevan and Hussey did the hard yards, kept themselves afloat and did end up performing rescue acts that are still remembered. The emergence of candidates like Ashton Agar, Ben McDermott and Alex Carey makes it even harder for Stoinis to reclaim his spot back.