Opinion: Stoinis > Marsh in search for next allrounder
Yet another disastrous first test in the sub-continent has seen the Australian cricket team come under fire. Who’s to blame, asks Ben Gibson?
The dramatic test match loss to Sri Lanka was a result of a horrendous Australian performance across the board, but a continually under achieving Mitch Marsh must be the first to face the sword.
Marsh, picked as a pace-bowling allrounder, must either provide more holistic performances with both bat and ball in hand, or become a master of one trade and pitch in their best with the other. After all, Marsh, 24, was likened to Jacques Kallis by ex-coach Mickey Arthur.
But unfortunately, Marsh fails to meet the elite standard. Stats don’t lie, and a batting average of just 23.47, and bowling average of 34.46 are far from international quality, hence a replacement is required.
From twenty-five innings, Marsh has hit one fifty. He has also never taken a five-wicket haul.
Sure, Marsh can strike a big ball, and that is great to watch in the short form of the game, but in the illustrious test cricket, his temperament has not made the cut. He does not have the mental strength to occupy the crease, nor the patience to leave the ball. Despite looking as good as any in times throughout the most recent test, he twice failed to make an impact when the match was on the line.
Worryingly for Marsh, captain Smith’s lack of confidence in his bowling is evident, and just nine overs in a test match is far from convincing. With Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood carrying the workload for the pace attack, it’s time for the green and gold to find a number six batsmen who will last a decade, and simply just chip in with ball when required.
So, who fits the bill and is ready to take the nation by storm?
Look no further than adopted Victorian Marcus Stoinis.
The late bloomer, who also played first class cricket for Western Australia, is soon to be 27, and is approaching the prime of his career. He averages an impressive 39.05 in first class cricket, which is set to rise as he hits his straps in his cricketing career. Furthermore, Stoinis bowls reliable medium pacers, with an ability to find a wicket when in need, or simply hold up an end.
Although test cricket is a whole new ball game, Stoinis’ IPL form in 2016 was pleasing nonetheless. With two man of the match performances under his belt, an average of 36.50 with the bat and 24.00 with the ball, he has shown the world that he can not only mix it with the best, but beat the best. His talent is world class, whilst his form has, and will see him transition from a white ball phenomenon to a great in the longer form of the game.
Stoinis has been given the opportunity to represent Australia A in Brisbane against a strong South African side, and with this chance, he shone brighter than ever before. A scintillating century of 120 runs has seen him sky rocket to test speculation, being the obvious answer to Australia’s number six batsmen quest. His technique is flawless, and his power can tear an attack apart, but his patience when required is what makes him the package that Marsh is not. Not only is he the complete all-rounder, but he isn’t afraid of the spin, which haunted Australia so dearly in Pallekele.
In just over half the first class matches, Stoinis has near mirrored Marsh’s milestone return, with one more fifty and one less ton than the current Australian cricketer. Despite significantly less opportunity, this is an impressive return that showcases his ability to convert his starts, as opposed to the handsome Marsh who regularly gets dismissed once set.
The bare extra pace that Marsh may posses at the bowling crease is of no advantage due to Smith’s reluctance to bowl him on subcontinental pitches, and holds Stoinis in great stead as the back up bowling option.
Australia’s heavy reliance on the top order has not been an issue in recent times with a clear dominance that puts no pressure on the likes of Mitch Marsh late in the piece. He has had the luxury of coming in on numerous occasions with a license to swing, which plays to his strengths, and the failure has gone unnoticed. But when the match is on the line and a batsman needs to dig deep, would you really want this fluky pinch hitter out in the middle?
Marsh disappoints time and time again, so what is there to lose by rolling the dice and giving fresh blood a chance? With a taste of international cricket in both short forms of the game, no stage will be too daunting for Stoinis, and no time is like the present for a career to begin.
All boxes are ticked and he’s raring to go.
Maybe it is unrealistic to think Darren Lehman will be phoning Stoinis and telling him to jump on a plane for the second test, although I’m all for defying the odds. However, whether it be this test, next test, or during the Australian summer, the day must come for Stoinis.
The sooner, the better.
What do you think about the Stoinis/Marsh comparison? Do you agree, disagree, or do you think Australia has a better option? Let us know in the comments below!