I wasn't far off losing my toe: Stanlake

Towering paceman opens up on the gruesome injury that's kept from playing as he nears his first match of the season with Adelaide Strikers

Louis Cameron

14 December 2017, 02:00 PM AEST

Two-metre tall paceman Billy Stanlake has revealed that if the toe injury that disgusted his Queensland teammates and derailed the first half of his summer had gotten any worse, he might have needed to have the troublesome digit amputated. 

Desperate to get through his first pre-season without a major physical complaint, Stanlake's rotten run with injury returned when he woke up the day after his first Queensland Premier Cricket match of the season and couldn't walk.

The 23-year-old had largely ignored a cut on the big toe of his landing foot – a common and usually harmless by-product of fast bowling – as it developed from a minor scratch into an infected wound over the course of the pre-season.

A close-up of Stanlake's damaged toe pre-surgery // Supplied
A close-up of Stanlake's damaged toe pre-surgery // Supplied

"It just started off as an open wound on the top of my toe purely from bowling," Stanlake explained to cricket.com.au this week.

"It gradually got worse and worse. After the first game of club cricket back home, I woke up the next day and it was quite bad. 

"I couldn't walk on it, it got pretty serious. I was in hospital for four days and needed surgery."

While the surgeons were able to clean out the toe to prevent the infection from spreading any further, Stanlake admits the damage could have been a lot worse.

"It ended up being quite serious. I don't think I was that far off losing it (his toe)," he continued.

"I think if it (the infection) had gotten into the bone or the tendons, I might have been in some serious trouble.

"It was red, it was cut up, it was bloody, there was puss, a bit of yellow."

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Fellow Bulls and Adelaide Strikers quick Michael Neser said teammates had noticed the festering wound on Stanlake's enormous foot.

"It was disgusting," Neser told cricket.com.au. "He had a pretty bad infection there at one stage. It wasn't looking great.

"I saw it after a couple of training sessions. I told him, 'it's not looking great, mate'. 

"But he just kept bowling and then it just blew up overnight. It was purple."

The bizarre ailment comes after Stanlake made his one-day and T20 international debuts and earned a maiden Indian Premier League deal on the back of impressive performances in the KFC Big Bash League last summer.

At 204cm, the right-armer is tallest person to ever play ODI cricket for Australia and the combined package of unmatched height, raw pace and an unusual bowling saw him included on Australia's national contract list for the 2017-18 season.

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Having not played any cricket outside of that initial club game for South Brisbane in September so far this summer, Stanlake is back off the full run after linking up with his Strikers teammates in Adelaide and had the likes of captain Travis Head jumping around in the nets this week.

Stanlake expects to play in the Strikers' first match against Sydney Thunder next week, and that the strong body of work he completed prior to his toe injury (plus a host of "spew sessions" he's had with Bulls fitness trainer Paul Chapman in recent weeks) has him bowling as fast as ever.

"I had a great lead-in this year, it was the first time I've entered a pre-season injury free and actually got through the whole pre-season injury free," Stanlake said.

"Physically and my bowling has gone to a different level. I've trained really hard throughout it.

"I knew where I was at with my bowling and body and I was in such a good place. I was flying and I just couldn't wait to get out there and play. 

"To miss the first half of the season just for a toe was pretty frustrating and I got quite angry. I got through it and now I'm ready to go again."

Neser has no doubt Stanlake will prove a handful in the BBL. 

"He's just now coming fit now and he's bowling fast," said Neser. "He's going to scare a lot of batters."

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