New Aussie beefcake makes his mark
Billy Stanlake made the most of his call-up for Wednesday’s Twenty20 International against Sri Lanka, setting the tone for Australia in a decisive nine-wicket win that sealed the series.
At home on the Gabba deck, the Queensland paceman took 2/23 from four overs, regularly clocking above 145km/h.
Steve Smith and David Warner both notched unbeaten half centuries as Australia needed just 13 overs to chase the visitors’ 117 for the loss of one wicket. The win followed the hosts’ lopsided win in the series opener in Adelaide, with the final clash in Melbourne on Friday.
Stanlake, who is fully fit after a series of niggling injuries in previous years, says thanks to former Australian star Andy Bichel it’s not just sheer pace that has him feeling good about his game.
Bichel charged in fiercely during his 19 Tests and 67 ODIs, but possessed potent variations he is now passing on to the young Bulls.
“At the start of pre-season he was just getting us to try out some things and I tried something that’s worked straight away and I’ve stuck with it,” Stanlake said.
“Bich’s been a big help for me the last six, seven months.
“You want to add things that batters haven’t seen in previous seasons and slower balls, being able to have that change-up and use it with new ball as a weapon to take wickets and stop runs (is valuable).”
Billy is back bigger than ever.Source:AAP
Stanlake is reaping the benefits not just of Bichel’s tutelage but also of a new confidence in his body. The towering 204cm quick — the tallest player to ever represent Australia — is even more intimidating after a dietary shift over the winter.
Stanlake added six kilograms to his figure during the pre-season, a strict breakfast regime providing the Queenslander with extra fuel and a stronger frame.
After dipping under 90kg last summer, Stanlake’s scales currently read a staggering 96.5kg.
“I probably lost just a bit of speed during last season,” Stanlake told cricket.com.au before the match. “So a big thing for me coming into this season was to put some weight back on, get some strength back and get that speed back up which I think I’ve been able to do.
“I’ve been eating a lot more food than I was last year.
“The big thing has probably been stacking a bit of weight back on, and getting a bit stronger.”
The Queensland quick was back to his fiery best on Wednesday.Source:Getty Images
Stanlake regularly beat the bat on Wednesday night but still copped some harsh treatment, with opener Danushka Gunathilaka’s scooped six an audacious shot that is becoming more common in modern cricket.
Captain Aaron Finch even had a fielder set directly behind the wicketkeeper in the final overs for a top edge or scoop.
“So many guys can ramp and hit you over your head at the same time,” Stanlake said of the challenges modern bowlers face.
“It’s a good catching positions sometimes; Finchy had a few funky fields, but they seemed to work well.”
Injury has plagued Stanlake’s career to date. The paceman missed last year’s T20I against India at the MCG due to a last-minute injury and he also sat on the sidelines for multiple ODI matches against England last June because of a toe laceration.
Injury permitting, Stanlake is likely to feature in next year’s ICC T20 World Cup, where he will support superstars Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc.