Australian all-rounder Marcus Stoinis has joined the Sharjah Warriors squad at a crucial juncture of their campaign in the inaugural International League Twenty20, which is being played in the UAE until February 12.
White-ball specialist Stoinis’ arrival fills a huge gap in the Warriors squad with the departures of star England trio — Moeen Ali, also the captain of Sharjah Warriors, Dawid Malan and Chris Woakes — on national duty to South Africa for three one-day internationals.
Sharjah Warriors fans will be banking on the ‘tough Australian spirit’ in Stoinis just as the team is beginning to stage a tremendous comeback in the six-team league with two back-to-back wins before a potential third at home on Thursday.
A day after rain washed out play with Dubai Capitals on 17 for 4 after 5 overs, the hard-hitting batsman from Down Under hit a warning note despite a long-haul trip from Melbourne where he finished with his duties in the Big Bash League.
”The conditions here are different currently from Australia, but as an international cricketer it is all part of the routine for us,” said Stoinis from his team hotel in Dubai even as UAE is currently experiencing a bout of cold, windy weather with rain.
“And the grounds here are smaller than back home. The pitches here are batting friendly, especially the one in Sharjah. They can lower and slower. You need to have a different mental preparation for it, but I am looking forward to it.
Yes, I saw how we had Dubai Capitals hemmed in at 16-4 and it is unfortunate that the match had to be abandoned due to rain. But that is done and we can only look ahead with confidence from how we nearly had the game in our hand,” he added.
The arrival of Stoinis, as a top-order batsman and medium pace bowler, comes as a timely addition to Sharjah Warriors who bowled out league leaders Gulf Giants for just 130 runs to win a low-scoring game. Sharjah Warriors beat Dubai Capitals in an away match the game before and were close to getting a double against them when the skies opened up on Thursday night.
Incidentally, Stoinis has had good runs on both of his past occasions of playing in the UAE. He played vital roles for the parent Capitals franchise, Delhi, in making them the runners-up in the 2020 Indian Premier League, and then returned next year to help Australia lift the T20 World Cup crown for the first time.
Asked how he adapts to the unusual weather conditions in comparison on his return, Stoinis, who has 57 ODIs and 51 T20Is under his belt, mentioned that he is talking to the coach and the boys.
I have been talking to the coach and the boys. The ball is still skidding onto the pitch. And I believe with the rains today, it has been mostly under covers. We have a game in the afternoon (against Abu Dhabi Knight Riders) but I am going to bat in the middle so hopefully I will get to see how the pitch is behaving, and then take it from there,” the all-rounder said.
“With every team we play for, there is an opportunity to impress and further your career. There is also something new to learn. There is no bigger pressure than the expectations we put on ourselves. So I want to enjoy myself, but I am here for only four games so I am hoping to take Sharjah Warriors with the best that I can do and take us to the finals,” he added.
Sharjah Warriors squad:
Moeen Ali (captain), Dawid Malan, Evin Lewis, Mohammad Nabi, Chris Woakes, Marcus Stoinis, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Joe Denly, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Naveen Ul-haq, Noor Ahmad, Karthik Meiyappan, M Javed Siddique, Alishan Sharafu, M Jawad Ullah, Chris Benjamin, Mark Deyal, JJ Smit, Bilal Khan, Rizwan Butt, Jamal Todd, Paul Walter, Adam Hose, Ben Mike