Stoinis works on defence against spin
Marcus Stoinis did not get to play a single game for Delhi Daredevils after the franchise signed him for the 2015 IPL season, but the time he spent with the team enabled him to work on his batting against spin. More particularly - and unusually, given the IPL is a Twenty20 competition - his defence against spin.
Stoinis displayed that facet of his game admirably during his 179-ball 77 in Australia A's first four-day match against India A last week, against a spin attack comprising Amit Mishra and Pragyan Ojha on a slow turner at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.
"I was pretty lucky to go to the IPL and spend seven or eight weeks with Delhi," Stoinis said during a media interaction on Monday. "We had a great set-up, and Gary Kirsten was a great coach there. He helped me a lot, and speaking to JP Duminy and those South African players, and then had Yuvraj [Singh] help me a lot as well.
"Sri [Sridharan Sriram], who's involved with us now [as Australia A's batting consultant during the tour] - he's from Delhi Daredevils too. I spent a lot of time with him, one-on-one, and he talked to me a lot, not just the conditions and the wickets, but the different types of bowlers you come across and the different plans, probably more of an Indian style of approaching the game than an Australian style.
"So my stance is a little bit lower than it has been, and I worked a lot - even though it might be the IPL - I worked a lot on my defence against the spinners. I found, once I could defend, I could understand the flight path of the ball, what's happening off the wicket a little bit better, and before you know you can attack a lot easier. I'm sure it will help with Twenty20 as well as the longer format."
Recently, in a development that will no doubt please his IPL franchise, Stoinis struck six sixes in an over during a practice match against the National Indigenous Squad in Brisbane, in an over bowled by the medium-pacer Brendan Smith. Stoinis was quick to downplay the feat.
"It was a short boundary and it wasn't probably as good as someone like Yuvraj hitting six sixes," he said. "There were two pull shots early on and a couple over long-on and one over midwicket, that sort of thing. Bit of a slog."
Stoinis made his first-class debut six years ago, when he was 19, but only got to play three games for Western Australia before he lost his contract. That prompted Stoinis to move to Victoria in a bid to rejuvenate his career; it worked, but not before a four-year wait for his Sheffield Shield return.
"At that stage, [losing my Western Australia contract] was sort of, it was probably the best thing that could have happened," Stoinis said. "It can come pretty quickly when you're young, you move into the system and you go from the Under-19s Australian team and it moves quickly, but I wasn't ready to play, I don't think.
"After that, I sat down with my family and that sort of thing and said, look, if I want to play cricket for the rest of my life, where do I want to live, and I picked Melbourne. They were the strongest state at the time, some great players there, so yes, I moved there, it took me a couple of years to get in, but that's how I made my decision."
Stoinis knew it would be harder for him to break into a strong side. "But the thinking behind my decision was more that I believed I was going to get there, and may as well do it in a place that I feel comfortable in. I've had a few great coaches that have been involved with me over those two years to get me into the team, with Greg Shipperd who was the coach there, Kim Hughes is my batting coach in Perth and he flies to Melbourne to see me, and the sports psychologist Dave Diggle, who's helped me a lot as well."
Stoinis picked up two wickets in India A's second innings with his medium-pace, and though his 13 first-class wickets so far have come at an underwhelming average of 55.69, he has been working hard on his bowling in order to become a genuine allrounder.
"I've always been a batter, since I started, so that's a change of mindset for me, really," he said. "I can see how important it is, because as much as I love my batting, the bowling might be what separates me from a lot of batters, so it could be a lot more important than I have given it credit in the past.
"But yes, that's the plan. I want to be a genuine allrounder, been working hard on my bowling, spent four or five weeks in Brisbane before we came here, just bowling, pretty much. Batting was the side note to that. So it will be an important string, I think."
There were no speedguns at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, but Stoinis thinks he clocks around 130kph. "130 to 150," he said, deadpan. "My bouncer is 150, I think."
Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo