Australian fast bowler Billy Stanlake has been withdrawn from his deal with Yorkshire for the Vitality T20 Blast as he switches his focus to proving that he has a future at Test level.
The late change of heart, determined by Cricket Australia and Stanlake’s representatives following Justin Langer’s appointment as head coach, leaves Yorkshire high and dry only a month before the start of the T20 season.
It will only heighten the feeling within county cricket that with the game in such flux, and the cricket calendar so crowded, agreements with overseas players can no longer be relied upon.
Stanlake, who is centrally contracted by Cricket Australia, sustained a fractured finger playing for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL and only began bowling in the nets again last Friday.
But fitness was not an issue for the abandonment of his Yorkshire deal. He has been named in Australia’s squad for five ODIs and one T20 in England from June 13-27, which represents Langer’s first assignment.
Langer, it appears, also believes that Stanlake has potential in the red-ball format and the player is also eager to prove his worth in the longer form of the game.
Ricky Ponting, the former Australia captain, certainly thinks so, suggesting in February that he “could be one of the all-time great fast bowlers.”
So far his injury record has precluded him from making much of an impact – he has managed only two first-class games, the last of them in November 2015, afflicted by serious back injuries and, more uncommonly, an infected toe which came close to amputation.
He will now concentrate on a full pre-season with the Queensland Bulls, with an eye on potential Sheffield Shield involvement later in the year.
Martyn Moxon, Yorkshire’s director of cricket, was in disconsolate mood when he said: “Cricket Australia got in touch on Friday and have decided on a different strategy for Billy Stanlake.
“Now the new Australia coach is in place, they want him to play some different cricket to T20 during the period he was due to be with us. Consequently, they’ve pulled him out of our deal, which is obviously very disappointing for us. We’re not the only county, it would appear, who has been affected by this.
“We’ll assess the situation as to whether we go for a replacement or not. We may choose to stick with our own players.”
Stanlake was set to play a minimum of 12 matches for Yorkshire, missing the opening two because of Australia commitments but then due to play right through to final group match against Nottinghamshire at Headingley on August 17.