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Ponting's big praise for giant Stanlake
Australia legend Ricky Ponting sees something special in towering quick Billy Stanlake
27 February 2018, 04:02 PM AEST
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting believes gigantic paceman Billy Stanlake has the makings of one of the game's "all-time great fast bowlers".
Having caught the eye with a breakout KFC Big Bash League campaign with the Adelaide Strikers, Stanlake played an integral role in Australia's new-look bowling attack that spearheaded their trans-Tasman T20 tri-series title victory.
The 204cm quick finished with 19 wickets at 22 across the BBL and T20 International summer and Ponting, who's watched him up close in his role as assistant coach for Australia's T20 side, says he sees something special.
"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."
Key to those hopes will be how Stanlake's enormous frame responds to the inevitable increase in his bowling workload in the coming years.
The 23-year-old has just two first-class games to his name – both in 2015 – and has conceded he's unlikely to add to that tally in this summer's JLT Sheffield Shield.
"I don't think so. It doesn't look like it at this stage," Stanlake told AAP recently."I'd love to be able to play Shield cricket. It's always a goal for me to get back to playing that. But I'm also realistic and know everything that's been put in place is looking out for my best interests."
But his surprise inclusion on Australia's national contract list in April last year signals not only the recognition of his unique blend of pace, height and movement, but also of the need to carefully monitor his physical development.
Stanlake finds himself in a similar boat to the one Magellan Ashes star Pat Cummins sailed in for half a decade, in which countless aborted comebacks from injury would see him stick mainly to white-ball cricket in the five-and-a-half years following his incredible Test debut as a teenager.
"I think there's a lot of parallels there," Ponting said of the pair born less than 12 months apart.
"Billy is probably a little bit finer – Pat was always a big solid sort of guy and Pat was introduced to the game at a younger age.
"Billy's in his early 20s now, just starting to fill into his body. I know Cricket Australia have got every intention of looking after him as well as they can and making sure they do bulk him up and don't break him too soon.
"Because it's probably inevitable that those guys are going to have the injuries early in their careers."
Cummins' cautious, and often criticised CA-managed route back to the Baggy Green has been vindicated as the speedster made the leap from injury-ravaged prospect to indispensable Test bowler. Since his return to Test cricket last year, he's played nine straight Tests and suffered no major injury.
For Stanlake, a serious toe infection dashed hopes of another outing in four-day cricket in the first half of the Shield season, while his selection in Australia's T20 side has further delayed a potential red-ball return.
Queensland, despite his absence, currently sit atop the Shield ladder after seven games. Although Stanlake himself remains uncertain over when he might dust off his maroon cap, Ponting believes the door is ajar for a potential late-season cameo in the Bulls' title tilt.
"I'll let the experts make those calls on where his loads are at and that sort of stuff," continued Ponting.
"I know coming out of the Big Bash and even being around this group, we've been trying to pump his loads up to get him to bowl seven or eight overs a day.
"But I'm sure if there's an opportunity for Billy to play a Shield game at the back end of the season, I think we'd all be silly not to let him have that opportunity."