Honesty sessions put Stars on track for final push
HONEST appraisals by underperforming batsmen at the Melbourne Stars have lifted a weight off their shoulders and primed the green team to march in to the Big Bash final.
An abysmal batting performance at the MCG last Friday continued a horror finals record for the Stars who face the prospect of a straight-sets exit when they confront the Sydney Thunder on Thursday.
Only three players have scored more than 200 runs for the tournament, and Stars captain Glenn Maxwell said an over-reliance on golden bat Marcus Stoinis (612 runs) had come back to bite his team.
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But given a second-chance under the new BBL finals system, Maxwell said the struggling batsmen made confronting confessions in the wake of last week's loss and would not fail again with a shot at a first ever title on the line.
"I think guys just had to be really honest about where they were and making sure that you get all the honesty out of the way, you make sure that all that is out of your mind then you can concentrate," Maxwell said.
"It feels like a bit of a weight off your mind and you can actually say "I'm not batting the way I would like to", then the coaches can give you an opinion and come to an agreement on where they need to get to.
"It's been well documented that Stoin has been unbelievable for us, and it can sometimes be to the detriment of others. He has been our rock for so long throughout the tournament, he gets 50 nearly every game and gives us someone to bat around.
"When you look at the stats there are not a whole heap behind him."
Nic Maddison, signed by the Stars on a lucrative three-year-deal, has been a major flop returning just 132 runs in 12 innings this season, including stints opening with Stoinis.
He opened in the loss to the Sixers, making just 16 as the Stars were bowled out for 99 batting second.
Maxwell said he had "thought a lot" about what he would do should he win the toss again after choosing to bat second and failing to chase down their opponent for the fourth straight game.
But he wasn't convinced that was the sole reason for the run of losses after scorching to 10 wins from the first 11 games.
"We haven't been batting well enough to nail it down to batting first or bowling first," Maxwell said.
"We just have to bat better. The last four or five games haven't been the standards we expect."