Billy Stanlake: From football to fast bowler

Standing at 6’8”, it is natural to assume that Billy Stanlake is a fast bowler. “Being this tall, I can't possibly be a batsman. Funnily enough, I did keep wickets when I was young.”

RCB's Billy Stanlake with fans during the practice session at Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, on Wednesday.   -  G. P. Sampath Kumar

Standing at 6’8”, it is natural to assume that Billy Stanlake is a fast bowler. “Being this tall, I can't possibly be a batsman. Funnily enough, I did keep wickets when I was young. But that didn't last long,” Stanlake said, at the Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Wednesday.

The Royal Challengers Bangalore cricketer has featured in two of the three matches played so far. In his maiden appearance, against Delhi Daredevils, Stanlake took two for 29 to help his side defend a 158-run target. His next outing, however, was not as memorable, as he conceded 41 runs in his four overs. RCB’s lost the encounter to Kings XI Punjab.

“I didn't expect to play so soon. To get an early game in was a surprise. Playing in front of the home fans (against Delhi) was a great experience,” he said. The away match, held at Indore, was marked by a blazing unbeaten 46-ball 89 by A.B. de Villiers, who made a terrific comeback from injury. “A.B. is irreplaceable - you cannot really fill his shoes. It's great to have him back. It was just quite crazy that he can bat like that after a break. Having him back is a great boost for us,” he said.

Before he took to the red cherry, the strapping lad tried his hand at Australian Rules Football. His father, Warren Stanlake, played the sport. “My father played just the single professional game. I remind him that he has played just the one game, so he can’t actually be that good,” the jovial speedster said.

As for following in his father’s footsteps, it was not to be. “Football is a bit more brutal (laughs), and there’s too much running involved. So I'll stay away from that,” he said. The junior Stanlake did give it a go, but found his calling in cricket. “When I was 16, I was picked for the Australian under-19 cricket team. That's when I started to take cricket seriously, and realised that I cannot be running around footy fields getting bashed up,” he said.