The summer of 2022-23 was to be different for Billy Stanlake.
Fresh off a fresh start, the 204cm runner aims to return to action in May 2021 after missing last season with a stress fracture in his back.
It was all set to plan before Christmas after he played three T20 club matches for Tasmanian Premier League side Big North Raiders and was called up to the Hobart Cronchers squad for the first time for the December 19 clash with Perth Scorchers in Launceston.
But then came another unexpected setback, when Stanlake sprained his hamstring during a routine practice a day after returning to the lineup.
“It was pretty amazing, it’s the first time I’ve had a soft tissue injury,” the 28-year-old told cricket.com.au.
That is on top of the 83 weeks he has spent on the sidelines since picking up a back injury while bowling for Derbyshire on his County Championship debut, which has ruled him out for a further eight weeks.
But as has been the case throughout his long recovery, Stanlake managed to find a silver lining, returning before the end of the season to make his Tigers debut, albeit in the second XI.
“(Rehabilitation) is a little bit easier when it’s eight weeks instead of 10 months,” he said.
“The main thing is that my back is good, my body is good, I got through the last two games at the end of last season.
“I thought it was important to get back to the last few games because of the lack of cricket I’ve been playing.”
A lack of game time was a major factor in his decision to escape the cold Hobart winter and shake off a bit of the “rust” in the Top End this off-season as one of the Northern Territory Cricket’s Strike League limited-overs. in competition.
The month-long tournament, with 10 ODIs and 11 T20 matches, pits Stanlake against some of the country’s rising stars, with Brisbane Heat big hitters Josh Brown and Max Bryant, NSW pair Ryan Hackney and Jason Sanga, Perth. Scorchers KFC BBL|12 final hero Cooper Connolly and recently delisted Queensland international Sam Heazlett will travel to Darwin for some mid-season match time.
“I didn’t want to come here for another six months of training, that’s all I’ve done the last two years,” Stanlake said.
“So I thought it would be a good opportunity to play cricket without going too crazy with the workload, which would be really helpful.
“It’s very important for the body to get back to playing. I think the longer you don’t do it, the worse it is for your body sometimes.
“You have to recover your body again, get match fitness and learn to play at a (higher) intensity again.
“It’s a really good way to set myself up for a really good season with Tasmania.”
While he’s not usually big on goaltending, he’s hoping to be in the Tigers’ first game of the season in September.
“I want to be available for cricket as much as possible and play as much cricket as possible,” Stanlake said. “I don’t know what it’s going to look like, but it’s important to go to Darwin and play some time, so at the start of the season, ‘am I ready to go or not?’ the question does not arise. , I can’t wait to go.”
With the mid-season departures of two of Tasmania’s top wicket-takers in both formats over the past three seasons – Jackson Bird to NSW and Peter Siddle to Victoria – Stanlake’s return will be crucial for the Tigers next summer as they look to bounce back next year. disappointing 2022-23.
“(Those) two guys have done a lot of work in Shield cricket,” he said. “There’s a lot of overs to fill and we’ve got a lot of young bowlers so it’s a great opportunity for everyone to step up and go for more bowling.”
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