CRICKET: Marcus Stoinis' magic one-day hundred last month has secured him an unlikely shot at a Test debut next week in Ranchi, after selectors overlooked the compelling Shield form of Moises Henriques.
Unless Henriques is carrying an injury that would restrict his bowling, the relevance of the Sheffield Shield competition will once again be placed firmly under the microscope following his controversial omission.
NSW captain Henriques has posted a career best summer that's yielded a century, a double ton and a total of 659 runs at an average of 65.9, compared to Stoinis, who has struggled through a below par season for Victoria with just 172 runs at an average of 15.63.
However, selectors have decided to look outside the square in replacing the injured Mitchell Marsh in the Indian touring squad.
Stoinis, talented and highly regarded for some time, has been backed in despite his low numbers as the fourth Australian all-rounder chosen in as many Test series.
There is no question that his stunning unbeaten century against New Zealand in Auckland back in February has virtually won him this opportunity, and now Stoinis will vie with Usman Khawaja and Glenn Maxwell to fill the No.6 void in Ranchi.
Australia fell short of victory when Stoinis smashed a memorable 146 not out with wickets falling all around him, but from that moment he was earmarked as possessing that rare match-winning ability at international level.
It was a special innings and selectors could argue they plucked Matt Renshaw from relative obscurity based on a gut feel that he had what it takes.
No.6 is a poisoned chalice for Australian cricket, and Henriques has had opportunities before, including in Sri Lanka recently - and the overall first-class records of the two all-rounders aren't dissimilar.
However, the difference is Renshaw for example had a Shield hundred recently under his belt when he was picked to debut, as opposed to Stoinis whose highest score for the entire summer has been 46.
Selecting a player on the strength of a breakout ODI innings rather than current red ball form is a contentious gamble.
Hilton Cartwright's Test debut at the SCG against Pakistan now looks as though it has been deemed a failed experiment and Henriques, 30, must now be wondering how he can play Test cricket again if his current blockbuster form isn't deemed good enough for a recall.
Henriques had injury problems of his own earlier in the summer and doesn't bowl regularly for NSW, however there doesn't appear to be any problems with his fitness given he has rolled the arm over for the Blues in their current match against South Australia.
Selectors may be worried about Henriques poor last Test match in Sri Lanka last year, but there was the mitigating circumstance that he had not played first-class cricket before that in more than six months.
Also, it was only four years ago Henriques made his Test debut in India and showed great promise.
No.6 is the missing piece of the puzzle in Australia's bid to create history in India, and they're hoping Stoinis can replicate his feats in one-day cricket and show big game ability can trump current form.
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