Stoinis reveals calm before the storm
MARCUS Stoinis will go for a walk on Thursday morning. A slow walk.
It's a game day ritual for the Big Bash blaster, who spends the hours before he explodes on the pitch doing everything he can to keep things calm, regardless of the magnitude of the match.
Stoinis, named the player of the BBL this week after smashing a tournament high 607 runs in the regular season, will also turn to his focus and visualisation exercises.
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All that bashing he does with the bat, including the BBL record 147 not our he smashed at the MCG in January, comes from having a clear mind, and a clear plan.
He sees the deep "pockets" at the MCG, a ground he loves like no other. He visualises hitting the new shots he has added to his armoury this year, like the flick off his hip he copied off his Melbourne Stars captain Glenn Maxwell.
Stoinis is no one-hit BBL wonder either. The hulking opener clubbed 533 runs last season too, third highest in the tournament.
His is a recipe for Big Bash success, and it's one he will stick to when the Stars entire season goes on the line.
"I basically don't want to be rushed on game day. Everything is at a relaxed pace. I like a feeling of being in control of everything because that's how I want to be leading in to the game," Stoinis said.
"I have a few focus exercises I do, a few visualisation exercises and then it's about, when I say a clear mind, it's about being as clear as I can be about what I want to do out in the middle.
"Then certain players will want to be in a different frame of mind, they'll want to be running around a bit more high energy. We all fit in with the team but you do your own thing."
His individual success is born out of a team environment at the Stars which Stoinis says "feels like home" when they return every December.
He's never played for another BBL team, and even when he left Victoria to move back to WA after the death of his father, the 30-year-old stayed with the green team.
There could have been a move. As a reliable Big Bash performer, and the Perth Scorchers went hard at him.
Stoinis though said you "can't underestimate" the worth of the environment in which each different team exists when it comes to performance.
The Stars, with a mantra for players to "express themselves" is where he fits best.
"A big part of what we want to do is create an environment where when everyone leaves they see that as the best time of their career, their life, or whatever it is," the 30-year-old said.
"For a lot of us that's creating an environment where people feel that they have that freedom to express themselves.
"It's not so much talking about cricket or anything particular off the field. We have created this culture for people to be fine to show their vulnerabilities which then brings everyone together and allows people to express themselves without any judgment.
"Look at Maxi who has recently been dropped from the Aussie team and had a break, but he's 100 per cent himself in this environment. He can show vulnerability and that's the beauty, no matter where you are in the hierarchy of our team, we are all the same."
Maxwell has been a batting model for Stoinis, too. The Stars captain has an unbelievable array of shots and Stoinis has worked some in to his repertoire, leading to an escalation in fence clearing. Copying Maxwell and a desire to be more bold.
Stoinis hit just 11 sixes among his 533 BBL runs last year. This season he has slugged 24 maximums in his 612 runs.
"Last year I was more crafty in terms of playing at the MCG a lot and there were certain times I wasn't willing to take on the big boundary," Stoinis said.
"This year I have added a few different shots to my armoury. It got to a stage where I was watching people like Maxi do some things and I thought "How long am I going to wait to do some of that stuff?"."
But what Stoinis would really like to add is a BBL title, something the Stars, for all their other successes, have never won.
The path has been muddied by a first-up finals loss, and the inevitable "chokers" tag was hurled his team's way.
Stoinis however, expressing himself as per the club's well-held, judgment free motto, is having none of that.
"I'd rather be us than any other team," he said.
"We have played in the most finals as a team out of anyone, and yes we haven't won, but I'd still rather be us.
"There are good things happening every year and I'd rather be in with a chance to win it every year than not."