Marsh Sheffield Shield 2020-21
Overlooked Stanlake desperate to make up for lost time
Snubbed at the IPL auction and not picked in Australia's T20 squad, the Queenslander is eager to get the red ball back in hand after playing just eight first-class games in five years
23 February 2021, 12:08 PM AEST
There could hardly be another fast bowler in Australian cricket more excited about the jam-packed finish to the men's domestic season than Billy Stanlake, who is desperate to make up for lost time in the Marsh Sheffield Shield.
Overlooked for Australia's T20 squad and snubbed by Indian Premier League franchises, Stanlake issued a menacing statement in his first game for Queensland in 364 days with a short-pitched bombardment to claim career-best figures for his state.
The towering right-armer snared 4-24 in the Bulls' Marsh One-Day Cup-opening win at Blundstone Arena on Monday, dismissing each of Tasmania's top four batters with bouncers in a ferocious spell.
Queensland were in the enviable position of being able to leave Stanlake out of their four-day side that defeated the Tigers in Hobart last week, maintaining their lead at the top of the Sheffield Shield standings.
But with a taxing run of four Shield games and three one-dayers squeezed into just 32 days beginning with their next Shield game on March 6 against Western Australia – and their leading wicket Shield taker Mitchell Swepson still absent with a neck injury – Stanlake is eager for an extended stint with red ball in hand.
"It's definitely something I'd love to do more of," the 26-year-old, who has played just eight first-class games since his debut more than five years ago, told cricket.com.au. "The more I can play, it's going to be better for all my formats.
"We’ve got a lot of cricket coming up - I think it’s 20 days of cricket out of (32) days, which is exciting.
"Something I've lacked in the last few years is time out in the middle bowling, so the best thing for that is Shield cricket.
"But the boys are doing great at the moment so it's a tough team to crack into. I'm going to have to keep trying to knock the door down."
Already deprived of regular cricket in recent years due to caution over his enormous 204cm frame, Stanlake missed the start of the ongoing Sheffield Shield season when he headed to the UAE for the delayed IPL in September.
But he didn't play a single game for Sunrisers Hyderabad, instead spending two months largely confined to his hotel room.
"It was more frustrating because you knew everyone was playing cricket back home," Stanlake said.
"Normally it's okay because it's in the (Australian) off-season, so you don't worry about it too much.
"But it was more the fact everyone was playing back home and I was sitting over there not doing much."
Stanlake finally got back on the park during the KFC BBL, taking 13 wickets at 25 in his first season for the Melbourne Stars and became captain Glenn Maxwell's most reliable fast bowler with Nathan Coulter-Nile, Haris Rauf and Dilbar Hussain limited to 11 games between them.
His tournament economy rate of 8.34 was the lowest it has been since BBL|07, a breakout campaign that prompted Ricky Ponting to suggest he had the makings of an "all-time great" fast bowler.
"It was just nice to be playing cricket," said Stanlake. "It was a long layoff. Going over to the IPL and not playing, and then coming back after quarantine – to have some game time has been brilliant.
"I played a slightly different role for the Stars to what we originally imagined just with injuries and stuff going on. I took a lot of confidence out of that and playing under 'Maxi' was great.
"I'm in a really good place, so hopefully I can stay on the park and keep playing games."