Gillette T20 INTL Series v Sri Lanka
Bigger, badder Billy sizes up Sri Lanka
Queensland spearhead gets the nod to replace Mitchell Starc on Gabba home turf for tonight's second T20 international against Sri Lanka
30 October 2019, 12:09 PM AEST
If Sri Lanka's batters find Billy Stanlake an even more imposing physical presence in today's Gillette Series T20 International in Brisbane, it's likely due to the towering quick's beefed-up breakfast regime.
Stanlake returns to Australia's T20 line-up this evening on his home turf, where his height and pace are likely to pose hefty concerns for Sri Lanka's batters still coming to terms with local pitch conditions.
But in addition to his 204cm height, Stanlake now boasts an increased width having undergone a concentrated weight-gain program during the winter months that added more than six kilograms to his beanpole physique.
While the 24-year-old stresses that the change was a product of strict dietary advice rather than binge-eating high-calorie foods, he conceded that he did harbour some doubts as the kilograms stacked on.
Much of the added body mass came through an increased breakfast intake as Stanlake found he needed additional fuel loads to get through a rigorous pre-season training regime for the Queensland Bulls.
However, as the scales revealed he was inching towards 100 kilograms for the first time in his life, he began to fear the extra weight he was lugging around would detract from his on-field performance.
So far, those fears have proved not only unfounded, but the extra flesh on his bones has seen Stanlake recapture some of the bowling speed he lost last summer.
That's in addition to granting him greater physical resilience, which is a much-desired outcome given the injury troubles he's endured and the resultant need to carefully manage his transition from short-form to first-class cricket.
"I probably lost just a bit of speed during last season," Stanlake told cricket.com.au.
"So a big thing for me coming into this season was to put some weight back on, get some strength back and get that speed back up which I think I've been able to do.
"I've been eating a lot more food than I was last year.
"It wasn't an ideal pre-season, it was a bit interrupted and I didn’t get to bowl as much as I would have liked.
"But I got to work on a couple of little things from last season, and a work on a couple of new slower balls. So that's been helpful to start off this season.
"Then the big thing has probably been stacking a bit of weight back on, and getting a bit stronger."
Australia men's team coach Justin Langer confirmed Stanlake's place in today's starting XI, with incumbent spearhead Mitchell Starc to miss the game because of his brother's wedding.
Stanlake underscored his potency in the 20-over format during last year's tri-series with Zimbabwe and Pakistan in Harare, during which he claimed a remarkable 4-8 from a four-over spell against Pakistan.
As Langer noted, that return against the team currently ranked number one in T20 internationals and on a pitch at Harare Sports Club that is not renowned as a fast-bowler's track highlighted what the speedster has to offer.
"He just cleaned them up with the new ball," Langer said today, in recalling that match.
"He bowled fast, he bowled bouncy. He's bowling good pace and he's bowled some good areas as well, more importantly.
"I think at this level, where he lands them is more important than the pace.
"That said, with someone who comes as high as he does and he has got that natural pace – that's why he's such a great prospect for us."
The extra helpings of eggs and oats each morning might have carried the Queensland-born quick to a personal best weight reading of more than 96 kilograms, but that's not the only scale on which he's noticed an increase.
Renowned for owning one of the most frightening bouncers in Australia cricket – a tool that he's shown he's prepared to regularly use in outings for the Bulls and Adelaide Strikers in the KFC Big Bash League – Stanlake keeps a close eye on the speed gun.
He aims to regularly push the 150kph mark whether he's operating with the white ball or playing in the longer formats, and that will be his focus in his first T20I appearance in almost a year this evening.
Stanlake is also cautiously eyeing the ICC T20 World Cup tournament that will be staged in Australia this time next year, and he knows that every performance between now and then carries significant context.
As such, he'll be throwing his full frame into tonight's second match of the series against Sri Lanka and the campaign against top-ranked Pakistan that immediately follows.
"I'm always wanting to push 150(kph) I think that's always something in my mind whatever format I'm playing," he said.
"So it would be nice to get around that mark again.
"It (T20 World Cup) is still 12 months away and it's definitely an end goal in sight.
"But I'm just excited to be part of this group again.
"We've got a great squad, and hopefully it's a squad that can take us to a World Cup next year."
Australia's second T20I against Sri Lanka begins at 6.10pm local time on Wednesday at the Gabba, with coverage on Fox Cricket and Kayo via the CA Live app.
Gillette T20 INTLs v Sri Lanka
Australia squad: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Billy Stanlake, Mitchell Starc, Ashton Turner, David Warner, Adam Zampa, Sean Abbott (from game two)
Sri Lanka squad: Lasith Malinga (c), Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Danushka Gunathilaka, Avishka Fernando, Niroshan Dickwella, Dasun Shanaka, Shehan Jayasuriya, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Oshada Fernando, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lakshan Sandakan, Nuwan Pradeep, Lahiru Kumara, Isuru Udana, Kasun Rajitha
First T20: Australia won by 134 runs
October 30: Second T20I, Gabba, 6.10pm (Fox & Kayo)
November 1: Third T20I, MCG, 7.10pm (Fox & Kayo)
Gillette T20 INTLs v Pakistan
Pakistan squad: Babar Azam (c), Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Musa Khan, Shadab Khan, Usman Qadir.
November 3: First T20I, SCG, 2.30pm (Fox & Kayo)
November 5: Second T20I, Manuka Oval, 7.10pm (Fox & Kayo)
November 8: Third T20I, Perth Stadium, 4.30pm (Fox & Kayo)