Stoinis’ astonishing knock of 146no at Eden Park yesterday was rightly lauded as one of the great ODI innings. He clubbed 11 sixes and grabbed a haul of 3-46 in Australia’s dramatic six-run loss.
The 27-year-old’s first chance to shine at international level came in 2015, when he played a Twenty20 and ODI against England following the Ashes.
It didn’t go to plan – and not just because Australia lost both games.
Stoinis was out reverse-sweeping in the 50-over contest, while he ran out state captain Matthew Wade when the T20 was in the balance. He failed to take a wicket in either clash.
“My bowling had to improve to move into that allrounder’s position, so bowling has been a big one,” Stoinis said of what he worked on in the past 16 months.
“Not so much technical (improvements to batting), just learning about situations and understanding the game.
“Thinking about what’s going to happen… then adapting.”
Stoinis is no longer the forgotten man of Australia’s allrounder stocks, a tag that beckoned after Hilton Cartwright was presented with a baggy green at this month’s SCG Test.
The reward comes more than five years after Stoinis shifted from Perth to play grade cricket in Melbourne, wanting to reignite his sputtering career after being discarded by Western Australia.
“It’s really satisfying. You believe in yourself and think about it (performing well internationally) all the time as a state cricketer,” he said.
“You’re always thinking about it (national selection). I’m sure that is what all state cricketers play for, you never know how close you are or where you sit in the scheme of things.”
Stoinis has become decidedly more potent with the ball since his first call-up. He used the offcutter to good effect against New Zealand, dismissing Kane Williamson and Martin Guptill.
But it was his clean striking that earned a standing ovation from the Eden Park crowd of 27,911.
Stoinis feasted on Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Mitchell Santner and James Neesham like they were park cricketers, clearing the rope with ease as he marched Australia from 5-54 to 280.
It was exactly the sort of power hitting that Melbourne Stars wished they had more regular access to during the Big Bash League. Mitch Marsh’s shoulder injury prompted selectors to add Stoinis to the ODI squad earlier this month, but he was restricted to drinks duty throughout the home series against Pakistan.
“As cricketers you just want to play, but we also understand there’s a lot of other things going on,” Stoinis said.
“It doesn’t bother me.
“You want to be around your national team when you’re picked in an Australian squad, but then… you want to be playing in the Big Bash if you’re not playing (for Australia).”
While everybody at Eden Park marvelled at Stoinis’ maiden ODI ton, the allrounder was left shattered by the dramatic six-run defeat, after threatening to belt the visitors to a victory that seemed impossible when they collapsed to 6-67 after being set a target of 287.
The gripping contest ended when Josh Hazlewood was run out by Kane Williamson, who dropped a catch when Stoinis was on 91 then missed a simple chance to run him out on 127.
Hazlewood didn’t face a single delivery in a final-wicket stand of 54 runs, watching in awe as Stoinis cleared the rope on six occasions.
Stoinis was belligerent in striking 11 sixes overall – the second-highest by an Australian in ODIs.
“It doesn’t feel that good,” Stoinis said.
“I’m happy to an extent but it’s probably not what I would have imagined.
“I’m not really sure what I’m feeling at the moment. A bit mellow.”
Neil Broom, who top-scored for the Black Caps with 73, spoke of his side’s relief after bowling Australia out for 280 and was full of praise for Stoinis.
“There was (a sense of helplessness). Guys were just getting deposited over the fence at will,” Broom said.
“It was a pretty special knock.
“I was pretty nervous myself fielding on the boundary when he was pumping the ball over my head.”
Stoinis suggested batting partners Mitchell Starc and Hazlewood helped calm him during the astonishing rampage.
“There was too much going on for nerves,” he said.
“I’ve had smoother innings than this but in terms of this (playing for Australia) being a new pressure … it’s got to be my best performance yet.”
The Eden Park faithful are regarded as some of the nation’s most raucous cricket fans but the crowd of 27,911 was full of respect for the entertaining dig.
The 27-year-old was given a standing ovation.
“That was really nice,” Stoinis said.
“To walk off at the end to something like that, that’s special. That’s something you remember forever.
“The crowd was pretty hostile early on. I was fielding on the boundary and got a few nice comments and all that sort of stuff.”
The hosts, sent in by stand-in skipper Aaron Finch, recovered from 5-134 to post a total of 9-286.
The absence of Steve Smith, David Warner, Usman Khawaja and Matthew Wade, who was set to captain Australia but suffered back spasms and failed a pre-match fitness test, was glaring.
The three-match series continues in Napier on Thursday, with the visitors upbeat Wade will be fit to play.
Wade’s setback paved the way for recalled opener Finch to captain, while Sam Heazlett made his international debut at age 21 prior to playing a single 50-over game for Queensland.
The rot started when Finch and Travis Head were both needlessly caught in the fourth over. Glenn Maxwell and Shaun Marsh were the only members of the top six to reach double figures.
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