Marsh Sheffield Shield 2019-20
Recalled Stanlake first eyes red-ball boost
Having been recalled to Australia's T20 squad, the Queensland fast bowler is first preparing for just his fifth Sheffield Shield match
9 October 2019, 06:58 PM AEST
Billy Stanlake was this week named in Australia's T20 squad, but the Queensland giant is champing at the bit to push his case in red-ball cricket, starting with Thursday's Marsh Sheffield Shield showdown with NSW.
Touted by Ricky Ponting as a future fast-bowling great, Stanlake has played just four first-class matches since his Queensland debut in November 2015, but enters the competition eager to play as much as possible.
"It's something I need to do, I think it's going to push my game to another level to get that game-time and bowling out in the middle," Stanlake told cricket.com.au recently.
"That's what you need to do to become a better player.
"I'm here, I'm ready, I'm fit, I'm firing, I'm ready to start the season, I'm ready to hit round one."
Stung by his poor performances last summer when he failed to take his chances in Australia's limited overs teams, Stanlake took the winter off to regroup and make some changes he feels have him back to his best.
"I definitely didn't perform how I would have liked and to the standards I set for myself last year," the 24-year-old conceded.
"That was disappointing in that regard. It was my first time going through a long patch of not being able to perform out in the middle and things not going my way.
"I'd done a lot of work off the field, but it wasn't coming off on the field. So I've just gotten back to being relaxed and enjoying my cricket, which I am now.
"It's been great these first few (Marsh One-Day Cup) games and the opportunity to work on a few things over the off-season."
Queensland bowling coach Andy Bichel has been instrumental in refining certain aspects of Stanlake's approach, and he's ready to prove that red-ball cricket remains his best format.
"I've always believed red-ball cricket would be my best format," Stanlake said.
"Obviously I haven't played a lot of it, but it was always my best format coming up when I was younger."
Stanlake will face a tough test of his first-class credentials in the Bulls' Shield opener against a NSW Blues line-up featuring Steve Smith and David Warner.
Bulls teammate Marnus Labuschagne said there was a buzz about the team with the pace and height Stanlake offers.
"He's been bowling really nicely in the one-day stuff so it's great to have him back in the fold for us," Labuschagne told cricket.com.au.
"Anyone that's bowling up around that 145-150kph mark is nice to have in your team. He's versatile, too – he can bowl full or he can hold a length.
"And he's been pretty accurate, which is good to see.
"His length and the way he's been able to hit the wicket has been impressive, especially when we played at AB Field, just bowling that hard length and still being able to use his bounce – it's such a lethal weapon."
With Stanlake aiming to play two Shield games for Queensland before linking up with Australia's T20 squad later this month, Labuschagne said the learning curve will be steep.
"He just hasn't had as much opportunity in the longer format and I think the more he plays, the more he's going to learn about the game," said Labuschagne, who is expected to bat at No.4 for Queensland.
"The more he learns, he's just going to get better and better.
"We all want to be tested and playing against the best there is. So it's going to be a nice challenge coming up against (Warner and Smith), as well as the rest of their line-up."
If Stanlake's performance can match his ambitions, Australia could unlock a fast-bowling phenom who Ponting believes has the potential to become an all-time fast-bowling great.
"I just love the look of what he's got," Ponting told cricket.com.au in February 2018 during his stint as an assistant coach with the national T20 team.
"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."
Queensland will host NSW in the Marsh Sheffield Shield opener at the Gabba from 10am local time (11am AEDT) from Thursday, October 10 with a free live stream via cricket.com.au and the CA Live app, including Apple TV
Queensland squad: Usman Khawaja (c), Joe Burns, Cameron Gannon, Sam Heazlett, Charlie Hemphrey, Marnus Labuschagne, Michael Neser, James Peirson, Matthew Renshaw, Billy Stanlake, Mark Steketee, Mitch Swepson.
NSW squad: Peter Nevill (c), Sean Abbott, Nick Bertus, Harry Conway, Trent Copeland, Liam Hatcher, Moises Henriques, Daniel Hughes, Nick Larkin, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner.