Learning from a legend: Stoinis thankful for Lillee

Marcus Stoinis has opened up about working with fast bowling legend Dennis Lillee, who has been mentoring the all-rounder as part of his bid to earn a place in ‘s Test squad for the upcoming tour of South Africa.
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Stoinis, 28, is currently occupied by commitments with the Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League, but had looked in the mix for the No.6 batting spot ahead of this summer’s Ashes series, having joined the Test tour of India early in 2017 as a replacement for the injured Mitchell Marsh.

However Stoinis’ lead-up to the Ashes was rocked by the death of his father Chris, who had been fighting a long battle with illness. Having taken leave from the game around the time of his dad’s passing, Stoinis returned to the BBL with a bang, making 99 from 51 balls to almost drag the Stars to victory against Brisbane Heat.

But while he has already earned opportunities in ‘s one-day international and Twenty20 sides, claiming a baggy green remains high on his list of aspirations. Having moved back to Western for state cricket, Stoinis was put in touch with Lillee through their mutual connection with Mitchell Johnson, who has also been mentored by the Test great.

Stoinis, who has long batted up the order in Shield cricket, said he started his career feeling like a batsman who could bowl a bit. But senses his bowling is improving and getting faster, despite a first-class average of more than 50. His first-class batting average is 34.56.

“I know it’s going to be important to bowl well, and keep improving with the ball, and with batting, make runs,” Stoinis said on Sunday.

He said Lillee had been helpful since they began working together recently. “He’s a legend. He’s been very generous to me. I’m actually due to send him a bit of footage to have a look at.”

“We’re just working on a few things with my run-up and all that sort of stuff.

“If [I] can control this run-up then it allows you to bowl a bit longer, allows you to have more rhythm and find all that sort of stuff.”

In the short term Stoinis can play a key role in kick-starting the Stars’ season. Having lost their first two games of the campaign, the Stars take on the Heat at the MCG on Tuesday night.

They are set to regain Kevin Pietersen following the batsman’s trip back to England for Christmas, however it’s understood Peter Handscomb is unlikely as he remains in ‘s squad for the fifth Ashes Test in Sydney.

The first Test of the South Africa series begins in Durban on March 1.

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