Billy Stanlake of the Adelaide Strikers. Picture: Getty Images
Billy Stanlake of the Adelaide Strikers. Picture: Getty Images

Big Billy ready to let fly for Strikers

Tearaway Billy Stanlake will answer Bree Lee's call to fly first-class having forgotten what red-ball cricket feels like over a three-year hiatus.

Stanlake is rated by greats including Ricky Ponting and Lee as a world-class, express spearhead in waiting but stymied by a Bermuda triangle of weird and wacky injuries.

Stanlake, 24, is pushing to return in Adelaide Strikers' BBL season opener against Brisbane Heat at the Gabba on Wednesday. The 204cm quick rolled an ankle in the warm up for Australia's Twenty20 clash against India last month in Melbourne.

"It has been a big 12 months where I have been able to play a decent amount of cricket and the body is in really good nick and I feel the best I have," said Stanlake, cut down by multiple back injuries after his second first-class game for Queensland against New South Wales at Mackay in December 2015.

"I don't think I am too far off, around the corner. It is about the getting that loading before you go into a Shield game and I am sure it will happen.

"It is quite funny I played a game of red ball cricket a couple of weeks ago and it was a bit odd. If I do get the opportunity to play one it will be very exciting."

Billy Stanlake of the Adelaide Strikers celebrates with his team mates after bowling Kevin Pietersen of the Melbourne Stars in January. Picture: Getty Images
Billy Stanlake of the Adelaide Strikers celebrates with his team mates after bowling Kevin Pietersen of the Melbourne Stars in January. Picture: Getty Images

Two years sidelined by lumbar stress fractures saw the Cricket Australia contracted paceman's work load strictly managed. Stanlake's pursuit of a national limited overs spot, Shield comeback and baggy green was then slowed by a series of bizarre ailments.

A serious infection hospitalised Stanlake for four days and nearly cost him his big toe last year. Stanlake fractured a finger while fronting for Indian Premier League side Hyderabad in April which saw Cricket Australia rule him out of a County stint with Yorkshire. A lacerated toe sidelined Stanlake for a game during Australia's one-day tour of England in June.

Having experienced the extended low of back stress fractures nothing worries Stanlake any more.

"The body has been really good the past 18 months - apart from the finger and so on," said Stanlake, who has played four 50-over and 16 T20 internationals over the past year.

"The ankle is coming along quite well now. I have been bowling the past week, had a good bowl on Wednesday and be ready to go next week."

Stanlake's workload has been micro-managed to the concern of legends including Strikers coach Jason Gillespie who is no fan of ball counting. Lee wants Stanlake taken "out of cotton wool", learning on the job, grinding through adversity and becoming bowling fit. South Africa superstar Kagiso Rabada is five months younger than Stanlake but played 31 Tests.

"I definitely still have a dream to play Test cricket. It has always been a dream of mine to do that so hopefully I can play some Shield cricket in the near future and push for Test cricket," Stanlake told The Advertiser.

"Every time you finish a series for Australia you realise how much fun you have and how good it is to represent your country. It is a great honour and something you want to get back to as soon as it stops."





Salivating at Perth's new "green monster" Test strip, Australia's tallest fast bowler represents genuine firepower should injury hobble Mitch Starc or Pat Cummins.

Emboldened by a maturing frame, Stanlake would have to impress at the back end of Queensland's Shield campaign to figure in Ashes calculations but is right in the frame for a 2019 World Cup berth in England.

Australia's first 5-0 whitewash at the hands of England in June, notes Stanlake, was a bitter but invaluable insight into the demands of successful World Cup title defence.

Stanlake conceded 0/74 in Australia's heaviest, 242-run, one-day defeat at Nottingham but fared better than Andew Tye's 0/100 as Jonny Bairstow, Jason Roy, Alex Hales ran riot. Stanlake hit back in the fifth and final game with 3/25 at Manchester and will return wiser next year.

"We had some tough games. The experience of that was a big learning curve, important, first overseas tour. A big focus over the last couple of months has just been executing over the top of off stump and that is where the opportunities seem to happen so you chip away at that," said Stanlake.


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