Stanlake poised for red-ball return
Queensland name towering speedster for Futures League clash, which looks set to end a prolonged absence from red-ball cricket
23 February 2019, 09:48 PM AEST
Queensland are optimistic Billy Stanlake's three-year absence from first-class cricket could soon come to an end, naming the towering speedster to make his long-awaited red-ball return.
Stanlake looms as the Bulls' secret weapon in their JLT Sheffield Shield title defence, with the right-armer picked to play for their Toyota Futures League side in next week's clash with Victoria at Allan Border Field.
Touted by Ricky Ponting as having the potential to become an all-time fast-bowling great, Stanlake has hardly touched a red ball since playing a pair of Sheffield Shield games for Queensland during the 2015-16 summer.
Instead, the raw two-metre tall quick has been carefully managed through Australia's limited-overs sides, playing seven ODIs and 17 T20Is since his international debut in January 2017, and for the Adelaide Strikers in the KFC Big Bash.
But having gotten through most of the summer unscathed – a rolled ankle that curtailed his involvement in Australia's T20 series against India earlier this summer aside – Stanlake will be eased back into four-day cricket.
While he's set to only play the first innings of the Futures League match before being replaced by former Australia under-19 paceman Blake Edwards, Stanlake could yet play a part in the Bulls' tilt at back-to-back Shield titles.
The clash at Allan Border Field will have no shortage of pace, with Stanlake to go head-to-head with fellow speedster James Pattinson, who will captain the Victorian side.
"Bill has a good chance to get some bowling under his belt now before the end of the season," Queensland selection chief Justin Sternes said.
"He wasn't included in the current Australian ODI squad in India so we can look at what opportunities there are to build his bowling in the longer formats like Premier Cricket and 2nd XI matches.
"We've got two Shield games left to play at the Gabba as well so we might see how things look there depending on a few things."
Stanlake wasn't at his fearsome best during the recently-concluded BBL, collecting 11 wickets in 11 games but going for 9.07 runs per over – up from 6.47 last season.
His form for Australia in five T20s this summer (including September's UAE tour) was more encouraging, picking up nine wickets at 14. He played just the one ODI this summer, against India, before his ankle injury.
Speaking during last season's T20 tri-series where he was assistant coach, Ponting was effusive about Stanlake's talent.
"I just love the look of what he's got," Ponting told cricket.com.au. "He's almost seven feet tall, bowls close to 150 kilometres an hour, he can swing the new ball.
"He's got a little nasty streak in him as well – he likes bowling bouncers.
"When we see him get a bit more of a tank and grow into his body a bit more and put on a little bit of weight, I think he's someone that could be one of the all-time great fast bowlers.
"That's all there ahead of him, we just hope he stays in one piece and becomes the kind of cricketer we all think he can be."
Futures League teams (each side plays 12)
Queensland: Sam Truloff (c), Max Bryant, Jack Clayton, Blake Edwards (second innings only), Peter George, Corey Hunter, Josh Kann, Matthew Kuhnemann, Alister McDermott, Lachlan Pfeffer, Billy Stanlake (first innings only), Bryce Street, Jack Wildermuth
Victoria: James Pattinson (c), Jackson Coleman, Xavier Crone, Zak Evans, Sam Harper, Mackenzie Harvey, Jonathan Merlo, Tom O'Connell, Jake Reed, James Seymour, Will Sutherland, Eamonn Vines