Giant Queensland quick Billy Stanlake is performing the dual roles of fast bowler and human sponge in the presence of the country’s premier fast bowlers, as he prepares for the Australia A one-day tour in India this week.
Stanlake and the Australia A one-day squad are spending the week in Brisbane at the Bupa National Centre before flying out to India on Monday for a 50-over tri-series against India A and South Africa A.
Alongside the ‘A’ squad members are Australian cricket’s three fast-bowling lynchpins – Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood – all of whom are on the comeback trail from injury, albeit at different stages.
As Stanlake readies himself for the tour that lasts just over a fortnight, the 23-year-old has been picking the brains of the senior pace trio.
"It’s great to get amongst them, and around some boys of the same height," said Stanlake, who stands at a whopping 204cm tall.
"It’s always great to feed off guys like that – they’re terrific bowlers and for me, someone who is just breaking into the international system, it’s always great to feed off them and get some ideas and see their experiences as well."
After receiving a shock Cricket Australia contract two years ago, Stanlake has been a frequent member of Australia’s limited-overs sides, when fit.
His biggest setback has been digit injuries; his big toe proved to be a frustrating issue at the start of last summer that took much longer to repair than expected, and more recently a broken finger he suffered in the Indian Premier League.
But now that he’s back to full fitness, the focus is on ‘A’ trip and the youngster has a plan on how to bowl in subcontinent conditions.
"It’s more so the line you bowl," he said.
"I think you’ve got to be a little bit straighter over there.
"I’ve always tried to bowl that hard length as I do over her in Australia but it’s more bowling a little bit more straight in those conditions."
He added: "That’s the great thing about going to all different parts of the world, it’s always different.
"For me, it’s a great challenge going over there and that’s something I always enjoy, having a good challenge."
Once the one-day tri-series is complete, Stanlake will return home to prepare for the JLT One-Day Cup, which starts in five weeks’ time in Townsville.
But beyond that, Stanlake will have his eye on returning to red-ball, four-day cricket, a format he hasn’t played in since December 2015.
It’s a shocking fact that a fast bowler of Stanlake’s ability, a quick who can clock speeds above 150kph, swing the new ball and extract rising bounce, has played just two first-class matches.
But the Queenslander says he’s not looking too far ahead just yet.
"It’s been great to get back to playing some 50-over cricket, which I haven’t done for a while," said Stanlake, who played in four of five ODIs on Australia’s Qantas Tour of England in June.
"Then again, it’s taking it one step at a time from series to series.
"It’s been a great start getting some cricket into me, so hopefully the body holds well so when the time is right, red-ball (cricket) will come."
And when that time comes, Stanlake says he’ll aim to manage his pace to be able to bowl consistently over long periods wearing the whites.
"I think in the long forms you need to have those different gears, you can’t do that (bowl express pace) all day for five days," he explained.
"That’s probably something I’m still learning, when to take it back a notch at training when you’re feeling a little bit sore.
"White-ball cricket I’m going flat out for the whole time and that’s something I really want to do."