Marcus Stoinis has reaffirmed his desire to play Test cricket but his hopes of joining this year's Ashes squad will rely predominantly on his form in the white-ball format.
A crowded international and domestic schedule – the bugbear of players and selectors alike – means all-rounder Stoinis will almost certainly not play another first-class match this summer.
Once his campaign with the Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League is done, Stoinis will head off to India with the Australian one-day side for five matches and two Twenty20 internationals, beginning February 24. Stoinis will then have another five ODIs against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates from late March, when the Sheffield Shield final is held.
Marcus Stoinis will have to use white-ball form to make his case for Ashes selection.Credit:AAP
Stoinis produced 298 runs at 42.57 (three half-centuries) and 10 wickets at 25.2 in four Shield matches before Christmas but selection chairman Trevor Hohns conceded in Sydney after the Test squad for the series against Sri Lanka was announced that there was not an all-rounder who demanded selection.
Stoinis has become a mainstay of the ODI side, playing in every game last year, with his form through the three-match ODI series against India better than his statistics showed – 86 runs at 43 and four wickets at 43. His unbeaten 70 as an opener to guide the Stars home in their Melbourne derby on Saturday night was of a man maturing in the manner he plays the game.
Ideally, he would make a further impression when the Shield season resumes next month using the English Dukes cricket balls but the West Australian knows his form in the 50-over format is the only way he can now make a Test statement.
"There is not much you can do. There is so much cricket. Everyone just tries to do the best they can," he said.
"Obviously, I have made it pretty public I want to be playing Test cricket but there are powers higher then me that are deciding all that sort of stuff. You just perform where you can and, hopefully, that translates in their eyes to Test cricket."
Stoinis will head to the Indian Premier League once his ODI commitments are done but then appears a lock for World Cup selection, meaning he will have to return home early from India to take part in Australia's pre-World Cup camp.
He maintained a close eye on how Indian master finisher MS Dhoni calmly guided his side home in potentially hazardous run chases in Adelaide and Melbourne, and that's the blueprint Stoinis wants to follow in the middle order.
Stoinis has received encouraging feedback from Australian coach Justin Langer.Credit:AP
Stoinis said the feedback from coach Justin Langer had been encouraging amid Australia's sixth-straight ODI series defeat – and he appeared to have embraced that message against the Renegades at Marvel Stadium with the bat and ball (3-19 off four overs).
"The feedback – obviously, there are things to improve [but] what I did [against the Renegades] is probably what he would want to see in the ODI stuff," Stoinis said.
"That was the plan with the way I batted but, unfortunately, it doesn't happen all the time. The blueprint is something like MS [Dhoni]. You watch him play – he is an absolute superstar although he has played 330 ODIs, I think I am [on] about five. So that's the blueprint.
"And with the ball, just create chances and do a job through the middle and I love bowling at the end. I like the responsibility. The feedback was good but there is a lot more to go."
Stoinis, with 24 ODIs to his credit, has been urged by former selector Mark Waugh to improve his strike-rate early in his innings. It's not the first time he has heard this although his career ODI strike rate of 96.87 proves that he does find top gear as his innings builds.
"I definitely understand that and I have heard all that before. But, as long as I am clear with my batting partner or whoever it is, if they get under pressure then that is something I need to be concerned about," he said.
"But everyone knows, and everyone is so clear about everyone's else's plan, that's part of batting as a team. As long as I end up making runs and striking at a good strike rate, and take the game deep, that is my No.1 goal rather than worry about my first 10 balls as much. It's something to work on but that is not my main focus."
His immediate focus now turns to the Stars' clash against the Adelaide Strikers in Moe on Wednesday. Having snapped a three-game losing skid, Stoinis says the Stars, with Glenn Maxwell, Peter Handscomb and Adam Zampa also back from international duty, are ready to make a run for the finals.
"I think we are going to come storming home … we will hard to stop come finals time," he said.
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