'He's an absolute weapon': Warne heaps praise on Stonis
HOPEFULLY Trevor Hohns didn't go too wild on New Year's Eve.
Stars all-rounder Marcus Stoinis will certainly be hoping Australia's chairman of selectors was feeling fresh as he watched Tuesday night's Big Bash League Melbourne derby.
Perhaps Stars skipper Glenn Maxwell as well.
Yes, they use a red ball in Test cricket. Yes, Twenty20 is a different ball game. But cricket is cricket and the green team's pair batted a class above a domestic tournament on Tuesday night.
Australia is crying out for talent - and a No.6 allrounder - and both Stoinis and Maxwell fit that bill.
The Stars cruised to a 10-4 derby record against the Renegades on the back of their poise at the crease.
While Dan Christian and Cameron White got their eye in on the golf course, Stoinis and Maxwell got the run chase completed well under par.
Ricky Ponting said Maxwell went to "lazily" hit a ball as he was stumped for 33 (22) but the damage was done.
"I've been saying all summer (Stoinis) can play red ball cricket, and I don't think it's straight competition between him and Mitch Marsh," Shane Warne said in commentary.
"He can play as a batsman. He's an absolute weapon."
Maxwell's second ball was sent over the rope and Stoinis slugged a fourth six to end the match unbeaten on 78 (49) after the Renegades failed to score a maximum.
The crowd of 46,418 was down 42.6 per cent on the 80,883 which attended the derby three years ago - but that's probably what happens when you lose drawcards Chris Gayle and Kevin Pietersen.
DUNK FADES THE FUNK…
Ben Dunk was given a life and then breathed new life into his Big Bash League career.
The Stars opener feathered an Usman Shinwari delivery to keeper Harper and then stood there as the umpire's finger remained down.
Renegades veteran Cameron White said there "definitely was" an edge but Cricket Australia does not allow DRS in the Big Bash.
So Dunk should've been out for one run off four balls and instead made 32 off 27 balls. Dunk and Marcus Stoinis put on 67 runs for the first wicket - the Stars' best opening stand in 22 matches.
It was just Dunk's third score of more than 12 runs in 14 matches in green and they were badly needed runs for a bloke feeling the heat.
Maxwell was confident pre-tournament a correction to Dunk's backlift would trigger a return to form.
Tuesday night was the first sign that Dunk might be able to end the funk. …
BUT SAM COULD'VE BEEN THE MAN
The sliding doors moment in Melbourne Stars' list management crystalised when Harper stumped Dunk with a sharp piece of keeping.
The Stars signed Dunk on a lucrative five-year contract and then delisted Harper, who has battled nasty concussion problems.
Well, Harper has scores of 36 (25), 28 (25), zero (one) and Tuesday night's lightning 30 (16).
Dunk - who has been overlooked as keeper in favour of Pete Handscomb and Seb Gotch in the past two matches - has an average of 11.6 runs after 14 games in green.
Harper, 22, is averaging 31.3 runs when he bats in the red team's top order. The 168cm fella is 8cm shorter and about 20kg lighter than Aaron Finch but doing a stellar job in his place.
Harper lapped Marcus Stoinis's first ball behind the keeper for four amid five sweet boundaries and two stumpings.
Harper was signed as Finch's replacement player and the Renegades are getting huge bang from his minimal match-payment bucks.
Dunk is contracted for another 52 Stars games and would probably be on a healthy whack of their salary cap.
NEPAL'S "VIRAT KOHLI"
By the time you read this, Sandeep Lamichhane will have slipped through Melbourne airport customs en route to Bangladesh for their Twenty20 tournament.
And it looked like Lamichhane was planning an early departure when the teen tweaker clean bowled Gades captain Tom Cooper last night. Lamichhane, 18, set off sprinting and was halfway to the bar behind the MCG Southern Stand by the time his Stars teammates caught him.
The celebration - complete with a kiss to the sky - capped a sizzling debut BBL stint for Lamichhane, who will return from the Bangladesh Premier League in a month to finish the Stars' season.
In four games Lamichhane took eight wickets, cost just 6.8 runs per over and added some much-needed spice to the BBL as Nepalese fans flocked to his games.
Nepal cricket captain Paras Khadka said Lamichhane calls himself the "Virat Kohli" of their country. You wonder what surprise nationality will be coming to games in 2023?
Maxwell gave himself the first over and then got funky with his bowling plans. Maxwell used five different bowlers in the first five overs as the Stars tried to deny the Renegades batsmen any sense of familiarity at the crease.
By the end of the innings Maxwell had ordered 16 one-over spells and two two-over spells.
And, eventually, it worked. Young guns Mackenzie Harvey and Harper built the perfect platform by scoring 0/52 from the first 29 balls and the red team added 9/96 from the final 91 balls.
It was the largest BBL total without clearing the rope. Boy, how they could do with Aaron Finch.