Marcus Stoinis may have dominated the past two Big Bash seasons, but he doesn’t fit into the Australian T20 line-up and should not be part of their 2020 World Cup campaign.
Stoinis only makes sense as a top-order batsman and Australia’s top four is already set in stone: David Warner, Aaron Finch, Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell.
The fact Stoinis is so commanding in the BBL yet can’t get a gig in the IPL is an indication of how he is viewed by leading foreign talent scouts.
The standard of the IPL is far, far higher than its Aussie offsider, particularly in regards to bowling. The last IPL season featured most of the world’s best bowlers, including Jasprit Bumrah, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jofra Archer, Sunil Narine, Lasith Malinga, Rashid Khan, and Trent Boult.
Rashid and fellow leg-spinner Adam Zampa are arguably the only two bowlers in this current BBL who are in that same bracket of quality.
Stoinis was given a long run in the Aussie T20 side across 2018 and ’19, playing 17 matches, but consistently looked out of his depth as he averaged just 14 with the bat at a glacial scoring rate of 6.9 runs per over.
Part of the problem was that in most of those matches Stoinis was being asked to bat in the middle order.
The West Australian all-rounder has excelled in the BBL as an opening batsman. He is also best suited in 50-over cricket to batting as close as possible to the top of the order. That is because Stoinis typically needs time to build momentum in an innings. He is not comfortable routinely blasting bowlers from ball one like Maxwell or Warner.
He likes to get his eye in and then unleash once set. This is highlighted by the fact that while his overall scoring rate in this BBL is solid, at 8.04 runs per over, he has gone at just 6.81 per over in his first 15 balls at the crease.
The drawback of Stoinis as an international option is that he wouldn’t often get to face more than 15 balls in total batting at five or six. Middle-order T20 batsmen rarely get a chance to have sighters – they are asked to hit out from the first ball against quality death bowlers with the field set deep.
This is a dramatically different task to facing a hard, new ball with the field up and the luxury of getting yourself set.
Being a middle-order batsman might just be the most specialised role in cricket’s shortest format. Many international teams, including Australia, have made the mistake of picking prolific top-order batsmen to fill the No.5 or 6 slot on the assumption that they’d just adapt. That strategy has failed time and again.
There is nothing about Stoinis’ batting style or his past that suggests he is suited to batting in the middle order. He became a liability in that position in ODIs due to constantly getting bogged down early in his knocks and sucking all the momentum out of the team’s innings.
It was the same story in his T20 career, and I can imagine history repeating itself if the Australian selectors are seduced by his imperious BBL form and try to fashion Stoinis into a middle-order batsman for this year’s World Cup.