JLT Sheffield Shield 2018-19
Stanlake eyes long-awaited Shield return
Queensland speedster hopeful that 2018-19 can finally be the summer he ends his red-ball absence
15 May 2018, 01:37 PM AEST
Queensland quick Billy Stanlake says he has felt lost at times during his three-and-a-half year hiatus from first-class cricket as he targets a comeback in the red-ball format this summer.
Stanlake has played just two first-class matches, the last of which came in November 2015, as various injuries – including back, toe and now finger problems – have prevented him from gaining the necessary workloads demanded of young fast bowlers in the four-day game.
As a consequence, his greatest strides have been made in the T20 format, in which he made a big impression last season with Adelaide Strikers and Australia, earning himself a Cricket Australai central contract in the process.
But Stanlake believes red-ball cricket is his strongest suit, and the 204cm tearaway – who regularly hit speeds of 150kph across the summer – is desperate to return to the fold with reigning champions Queensland.
"I want to play all three forms of the game," the 23-year-old told cricket.com.au. "I still feel like red-ball is probably my best format, so I'm itching to get back out there.
"Hopefully this year is the year I can get a few games in.
"It's hard. It's been a few years now and you do feel a little bit lost in a way, not being in the (Shield) playing group.
"I still loved every minute of them winning the Shield final, and hopefully I can experience one in the future.
"It's still six, seven months away so hopefully everything goes well for me in the winter and I can stay injury-free, so I can then look at playing some red-ball stuff in the summer."
The prospect of the towering speedster running in for the Bulls in the four-day competition already has teammates – many of whom diligently avoid him in the nets – enthused.
"That'd be really exciting, get him in there," said pace-bowling allrounder Jack Wildermuth. "I'd love to be bowling from one end while he's steaming in from the other – it'd be a really great sight.
"I know he's really keen to play some red-ball cricket. He's done so well in white-ball cricket over the past 12 months … I'd love to see him playing with Queensland again and I'm sure he can play for Australia in red-ball cricket as well, once he gets a few games under his belt."
Stanlake, who earned a Cricket Australia central contract for the second year running, looks to have a busy white-ball period ahead.
The right-arm quick was selected for Australia's ODI and T20 squads for upcoming tours of the UK and Zimbabwe, and has signed with Yorkshire in the UK's domestic T20 tournament, though given his continued recovery from a fractured finger (he resumed bowling in the nets last Friday) it appears likely his involvement in that tournament will be restricted to after his national duties in Zimbabwe.
The speedster, who idolised Brett Lee growing up, believes he is yet to reach his potential in terms of pace.
"I don't want to put a ceiling on (how fast I can get), and I don't want to just be happy with where I am now – I've still got a few years for my body to mature and strengthen," he said. "So I don't see why I can't get faster.
"That's the challenge. I know I've got a big year of hopefully playing a lot of games, and getting another year older is going to play a factor in that."
Qantas ODI Tour of England
June 7 Warm-up v Sussex, Hove (D/N)
June 9 Warm-up v Middlesex, Lord's
June 13 First ODI, The Oval (D/N)
June 16 Second ODI, Cardiff
June 19 Third ODI, Trent Bridge (D/N)
June 21 Fourth ODI, Durham (D/N)
June 24 Fifth ODI, Old Trafford
June 27 Only T20, Edgbaston (D/N)
T20I tri-series in Zimbabwe
Sunday, July 1: Zimbabwe vs Pakistan
Monday, July 2: Pakistan vs Australia
Tuesday, July 3: Australia vs Zimbabwe
Wednesday, July 4: Zimbabwe vs Pakistan
Thursday, July 5: Pakistan vs Australia
Friday, July 6: Australia vs Zimbabwe
Sunday, July 8: Final