Marcus Stoinis has smashed his way into the frame for the first-drop role for Australia.
Marcus Stoinis has smashed his way into the frame for the first-drop role for Australia.

Stoinis’ brutal WC audition, Warner’s worst ever series

CRICKET: Marcus Stoinis has put forward a compelling case for sole ownership of the No.3 spot with Australia's World Cup XI starting to come into focus.

With Steve Smith enduring a rare run of poor form, and seemingly appearing willing to move away from first drop, the coveted No.3 role is up for grabs.

A position held with distinction by the likes of Ricky Ponting, Dean Jones, Smith and Shane Watson over the years, it's been a poisoned chalice in recent times.

While his Test batting has been untouchable, Smith's ODI form dipped last year and he's had a difficult series - 102 runs at 20.40, with a strike rate of 68.91 - while shuffling around the batting order.

Cameron White was tested there twice, with scores of 3 and 17 hardly a ringing endorsement.

With White dropped for Glenn Maxwell in Perth, Stoinis was the man given the chance to prove himself as the long-term option.

Hard-hitting No.3s are all the rage in world cricket at the moment - just look at England, who throw Alex Hales into the action at first drop, as proof of that.

Marcus Stoinishas has impressed with the bat. Picture: AAP/Joe Castro
Marcus Stoinishas has impressed with the bat. Picture: AAP/Joe Castro

Stoinis has played some extraordinary innings down the order, no more crazy than his explosive, unbeaten 146 from No.7 in just his second ODI which nearly stole victory from New Zealand in Auckland last January.

After 13 innings he averages 62.88. And he's thrashed brisk scores against England, too, this summer - batting at No.6, hitting boundaries as the time ticked down.

But what would he do if given 40 overs to work with? Could he play a long game, overcome the battles of facing the new ball and have an Australian team build its innings around him?

He looked the part on Sunday, right up until his shock dismissal - which was only a shock because he'd not looked close to getting out.

"It's a chance to show the captain that he's good enough to bat there," said former Australian captain Michael Clarke.

"We've seen it at 6, but can he do it up the order."

David Warner averaged 14.60.
David Warner averaged 14.60.


FOR so long the most feared batsman in Australia's ODI line-up, David Warner went off the boil badly against England this summer.

Neither the Bull nor the Reverend this series, Warner looked out of sorts from ball one when Mark Wood surprised him with a bouncer. He only lasted another four deliveries before edging another short ball. He'd fall in the cordon in each of his next three innings before having his stumps rattled by a yorker in game five.

His numbers by the end of it were not pretty, - 73 runs at 14.60 - with the left-hander enduring the worst series (minimum three matches) of his entire ODI career. It's the first time since 2009 that he has failed to notch at least one score above 50 in a series of any length at home.

It couldn't have come at much worse of a time either, coinciding with a run-scoring drought from Steve Smith. The Australian captain finished the series with an average of 20.40 and a strike rate of 68.91. He hardly looked like the same man who averaged over 100 in the Ashes and in truth he has been battling in the ODI arena for a while now.

Since Smith's last ODI century, against Pakistan at the SCG last January, he has averaged 29.46 and scored at a painfully slow 78.48. With the World Cup only a year and a half away, Australia needs it best two batsmen to rediscover their best quickly.

A matchwinning role was calling out for Glenn Maxwell.
A matchwinning role was calling out for Glenn Maxwell.

SNUBBED at the start of the series, Glenn Maxwell had the perfect opportunity to prove selectors wrong when he joined Marcus Stoinis at the crease with a gettable target in his sights.

Maxwell, who has been in impressive form for Victoria and the Melbourne Stars this summer, started confidently - off drives for six, innovative scoops over the keeper's head for four.

He was charging along at better than a run a ball and, along with Stoinis, was setting up what appeared to be a winning platform for Australia.

Then Stoinis departed, and suddenly Australia's hopes rested largely on Maxwell's shoulders.

The scene was set for his triumphant return to the national side.

Unfortunately the 29-year-old fluffed his lines.

Australia added just three runs in two overs before Maxwell was trapped LBW by Tom Curran to a straight delivery that didn't appear to do too much off the deck.

His 39 from 39 had everything a Maxwell innings usually has - from brilliant cricket shots to the funky stuff.

But what it needed was a cool head and a matchwinning innings.

Tim Paine had a fine series with both bat and the gloves.
Tim Paine had a fine series with both bat and the gloves.


THE standard of fielding this summer has been off the charts, with some truly outrageous catches in the Big Bash League as well as on the international scene.

Australia, admittedly, has come up with a few shockers this series however - with Cameron White's dropped chance at the SCG last Sunday the worst of the lot.

However, in Perth, the standard lifted considerably.

Tim Paine set the tone with a sharp grab to remove Jason Roy - or so he thought, with the wicket taken away upon review of Mitchell Starc's front foot, which delivered a belated no-ball.

Both captains produced stunning run-outs.

Marcus Stoinis dismissed Eoin Morgan with a classy, low grab having run in from the rope.

Mitchell Marsh took a fine catch, running backwards with the ball looping over his head, to dismiss David Willey.

And then Moeen Ali put them all to shame with arguably the best caught-and-bowled of the summer - an incredible one-handed reflex catch, from a full-blooded Marsh drive.

Proving that the cricket Gods are as cruel as they are kind, Moeen fell back down to earth almost immediately - coming up with two of the worst pieces of boundary-riding you'll ever seen, conceding a pair of fours as the ball slipped through his grasp.

On both occasions he copped a roasting from the Perth crowd, who seemed to quickly forget the incredible catch he took moments before.

Test wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow dropped a couple in the slips and the outfield, while Alex Hales also shelled a chance he should've swallowed.

Steve Smith shakes hands with Joe Root.
Steve Smith shakes hands with Joe Root.


FOR the ninth time this summer, Joe Root passed 50 - and for the ninth time this summer, he failed to reach three figures.

Root's inability to convert 50s into centuries was an enduring storyline throughout the Ashes, with the Test skipper coming under fire for not turning starts into matchwinning tons.

Some suggested it was the difference that kept him from being mentioned in the elite company of Steve Smith and Virat Kohli.

However, despite still missing out on that elusive century, Root was superb throughout the one-day component of the tour.

Root had two unbeaten innings - a 91 in Melbourne, where he ran out of runs with a century begging, and a 46 at the Gabba - as he successfully steered England to victories.

A further team-high 62 in Perth helped England to a competitive score, which they ultimately defended.

In fact, his only real failure came at Adelaide Oval - where his duck, one of four in the England team, contributed to a historic top-order collapse.

But for the most part, Root had a Smith-like influence over this series - going some way towards making up for the heartbreak of losing the Ashes.

"I think anyone who has been involved in the Test series has thoroughly enjoyed these one-day games," Root said after the match.

"To come back how we have as a side is excellent. It just shows the character within the group and the talent as well when it comes to one-day cricket."

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