Fish & spit: How Stoinis won over cricket’s roughest crowd
TWELVE months ago, Marcus Stoinis got a warmer response from the Auckland crowd than most Australian visitors to Eden Park.
Whether it be cricket in the summer or rugby union in the winter, visiting Australian teams typically feel the full brunt of abuse from New Zealand's most rabid of fans.
Just ask champion Australian opening batsman Matthew Hayden, who famously labelled New Zealand's crowds as among the worst in the world following a particularly nasty atmosphere at a one-day clash in 2005 - when the Wellington crowd caused two delays by spitting, hurling rubbish and abusing the Australian fielders.
Australian coach Darren Lehmann claims to have had fish and a toilet seat thrown at him when fielding - while Stuart law was struck by a sauce bottle.
Stoinis, however, has far kinder memories and is relishing his return to the ground which launched his international career as Australia's Twenty20 side prepare to face New Zealand in Auckland.
With a spot in next week's tri-series final already locked up, the visitors will be out to maintain their unbeaten run when they face the Black Caps on Friday night at Eden Park.
The ground holds fond memories for Stoinis, who became the talk of the cricketing world when he scored an incredible 146 not out during last summer's one-day international series.
Australia fell six runs short of their target when Josh Hazlewood was run out at the non-striker's end without facing a ball.
But it was a special knock from Stoinis, who in just his second ODI, became the first Australian to make a hundred and take at least three wickets (3-49) in the format.
Even the famously raucous Eden Park crowd showed their respect by giving Stoinis a standing ovation when he reached his ton.
"I've heard it's pretty rare. Our coach apparently got hit by a fish one time off the boundary," Stoinis quipped on Wednesday.
"That was amazing for me and very respectful from the crowd. I found out later how rare that it is so a very special moment for me."
Stoinis made his limited-overs debut during Australia's tour of England in 2015 but was unable to force his way back into the side until being called up at Eden Park.
"My career pretty much started here so I'm excited to be back," Stoinis said.
"To come back after 18 months and do well and help the team out, it was just a 'thank God' sort of thing ... 'I'm here now and I can get a few games'."