By Graham Hardcastle
England batsmen watch out, fearsome fast bowler Billy Stanlake isn’t about to give up on his Test Match dream.
With plenty of talk going around about prioritising formats following the recent decisions of Adil Rashid, Alex Hales and even New Zealand’s Colin Munro to step away from red ball cricket and concentrate on white, it makes you wonder who will follow suit.
In their squad, Yorkshire have a couple of players who would fit the ball – Liam Plunkett and David Willey.
But, in the last 10 days or so, both have stated their intentions to continue along the conventional route and fight for the Championship Trophy with Yorkshire and for a Test place with England.
Now, the county’s specialist overseas player for this summer’s Vitality Blast, the towering Australia quick Stanlake, has done the same.
Stanlake has just enjoyed an Aussie summer to remember, winning the Big Bash with the Adelaide Strikers and helping his country win the tri-series T20 involving England and New Zealand.
The 23-year-old Queenslander, however, has not played a four-day match for his State since December 2015, and he has only played twice in his entire career owing largely to a series of injuries, including three stress fractures of his back.
But he said: “I’ve got no ambition of going down that route. I want to play red ball, I want to play Test cricket. That’s what I’ve always aspired to do.
“Unfortunately through injuries over the last few years, I haven’t been able to play much. But I’ve had a strong 18 months now, and the body is in good nick.
“Having this good off season of T20 stuff (with Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL and then Yorkshire) should hopefully help, and then at the start of next summer I’m hoping I’ll be ready to play red ball again.
“In terms of somebody like Adil, he’s had a number of Test Matches – he’s been there and played it. So for guys like that, they’re experienced enough to make their own decisions.
“But I’m definitely still aiming towards Test cricket. That’s the dream.”
If Stanlake has a good 2018/19 Sheffield Shield season with Queensland, he has every chance of returning to England next summer for the Ashes. If that proves too soon, he is young enough to feature in plenty more Ashes battles during the next 10 years or so.
Meanwhile, Yorkshire’s squad have returned home from their pre-season training camp in Potchefstroom, where they enjoyed a successful six days of match action.
They had the better of Nottinghamshire in a two-day match at the start of last week before beating the same opponents and Leeds/Bradford MCC Universities in 50-over fixtures.
They then rounded of a tour which saw six centuries scored, including two for Alex Lees, with a two-day intra-squad match at the weekend. Both Plunkett and Willey featured in the latter.
Yorkshire’s first match on English soil is a two-day friendly at Durham on April 3-4.