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Faulkner key to Australia's WC 2015 plans

Daniel Brettig

January 18, 2014

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James Faulkner gets the acclaim for his knock, Australia v England, 2nd ODI, Gabba, January 17, 2014
James Faulkner's ice-cool demeanour and big-hitting attributes could prove handy for Australia at the World Cup next year © Getty Images
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James Faulkner's rare temperament, as much as his powerful hitting, will make him a central part of Australia's already advanced planning for the 2015 World Cup. The great escape Faulkner engineered at the Gabba to thoroughly demoralise England was not his first, evidence of the clear thinking and even temper that has made him so valued by team-mates at the age of 23.

The vice-captain Brad Haddin, who watched Faulkner's innings from the dressing room after being one of several batsmen to fall in the chase while essaying the sort of aggressive strokes the younger man would choose so wisely, placed the innings in perspective. He felt Faulkner had been fortified by engineering a similar chase in Mohali against India last year, and that he had always shown an ability to learn quickly.

"That was an extraordinary finish last night. We were in no position to win the game until James hit the four through cover in the last over," Haddin said. "The funny thing about that, it's not the first time he's done it. He's done it in Mohali before, but to get us out of the position we were in last night was an extraordinary effort.

"I think Mohali's helped him. He understands now that if [he] can get the game deep he has the power to clear the rope at the end. He paced his innings pretty well last night. He's a guy's who learns quicker than most. He's only young but he takes everything on board. He picks up things and puts them into action.

"He has been a part of our set-up for the whole summer and he's obviously an exceptional talent. He's got that competitive edge you want in a cricket team."

Australia's coach, Darren Lehmann, has outlined his desire to bring a strong squad mentality to the limited-overs dressing room, where players know their roles and can come in to fill them seamlessly, whether they start a tournament or not. Harking back to his own playing days, Lehmann has outlined the value of squad players to Australia in past World Cups, from Tom Moody in 1999 to Andy Bichel and Andrew Symonds in 2003 and Shaun Tait in 2007.

Unlike the Ashes success in which the same 11 players pushed themselves through the five Tests to deliver a sweep of England, Lehmann has made it clear that he will need more than a single team's worth of contributors for a tournament that will be played in contrasting conditions - from the slow, low drop-ins of New Zealand, to the faster tracks of Brisbane and Perth.

So the emergence of role-players like Faulkner will be critical to Australia's chances of wresting back a title they lost in 2011, as will the further perpetuation of the winning habit, now well established against an increasingly forlorn England.

"We're trying to put a squad together now leading into the World Cup, so we're giving guys an opportunity to show their worth," Haddin said of Australia's burgeoning squad. "It's massive, every game for us now, because we're fighting for World Cup selection. We all want to be part of the World Cup.

"People say winning is a habit and so is losing and I think that was no more evident than last night. We probably lost wickets at crucial times and didn't close out the game like we should have and no one in our top four went on and got a hundred. England did all that and we won the game. Winning is a habit and so is losing.

"We're enjoying the cricket we're playing at the moment and we've got a chance tomorrow at the SCG to close the series down and that's what we're looking to do. We go into every series hoping to win and we're hoping after last night we can open a few more scars in Sydney and finish it off. It's a massive achievement if we can do that tomorrow."

As for England's surrender of such a dominant position when Australia's ninth wicket fell, Haddin was in no mood to offer any sort of sympathy. "Obviously they won't be feeling well but that's not for me to judge," he said. "We were in a position last night when England batted, bowled and fielded a lot better than us, and we won the game.

"We'll obviously take a lot of confidence out of that leading into this game in Sydney. I don't need to worry about what Alastair Cook says to his team. We've all been on the end of a few floggings from England, so I'm not worried about what he says to his team."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by ScottStevo on (January 19, 2014, 21:22 GMT)

@Shaggy076, very nice XI! My only change would be Coulter-Nile. He wouldn't make my 15. I'm hoping Cummins and Starc will be back by then. Pattinson is still on his way back and needs more match time (odd we only played him in this match as I thought it was perfect prep time for the upcoming SA series, which I'm sure he'll be selected for), I think he's a much better bowler too. Also, I'd have C Ferguson in the 15. I also liked Paine and with his decent international returns would most likely have him as our call up keeper. You don't exactly want debutants in knock out matches. My spinner wouldn't be Doherty. He does alright, but just isn't good enough and can really ruin a match, as he did single handedly against the WI in one particular match. Maybe that's a bit harsh as I've also seen him go through a team too, but I just have a lack of faith in his abilities at tough times. Isn't Lyon, our test spinner, good enough for ODIs? Maybe go without if we can get spin from GM and MC??

Posted by   on (January 19, 2014, 12:40 GMT)

There are some teams running as favorites. Maybe it is time for New Zealand to lift the trophy.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (January 19, 2014, 11:45 GMT)

I'll have a go at my one-day squad for world cup with my first XI named first Warner, Marsh, Watson, Clarke, Bailey, Maxwell, Haddon, Faulkner, Johnson, Harris, Coulter-Nile extra 4 players Finch, Doherty, Richardson, Christian

Posted by jimbond on (January 19, 2014, 6:43 GMT)

For Australia to do well in 15, the direction is quite clear. Clarke should not play- he spoils the balance of the team. There is a fine nucleus of players, the gaps should be filled by 2015. The basic set of players is -Faulkner, Maxwell, Warner, Finch, Watson, Haddin, Johnson. This set contains three proper bowling options and one half-option; one wicketkeeper; four specialist batsmen and three others who can bat. This core list of 7 also provides an option to include two more batsmen and two more bowlers.

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (January 19, 2014, 2:15 GMT)

Faulkner's century against India that *almost* won them the game was in many ways even better than his winning score in India. But this latest effort was the best of the lot. When Faulkner is there, there is a chance.

Posted by pat_one_back on (January 19, 2014, 1:45 GMT)

One of the most impressive aspects of Faulkner's play is his confidence in his hitting, where as Maxwell for example is looking for gaps through innovation, Jimmy is a cold hard long hitter who lures bowlers into his hitting zone with I miss you hit bait, then doesn't miss!

Posted by Chris_P on (January 18, 2014, 19:31 GMT)

@landl47. Although his bowling figures don't back it up (ODI's), he is actually quite a decent bowler & does, despite his brain explosions, put in a lot of thought into his bowling. His FC figures back this up & the few times I had seen bowl in Shield matches on unhelpful SCG pitches, he has always impressed me with his patience. If we are serious about him as a batsman, then we should be batting him at #6 or 7 for Tasmania. I noticed last Shield game he went in at #6 so perhaps there is a real future for him to round out his batting skills, not saying he can't hit a ball out of sight, but he needs to complete his game. At 23 years of age, he has plenty of time, & the fact he father was quite a decent pace bowler for Tasmania probably keeps his feet on the ground a bit. For test cricket, he needs to get his batting up to an acceptable #6 as his bowling puts him behind quite a few better credentialled players.

Posted by shammini on (January 18, 2014, 19:13 GMT)

Keep him in limited over formats and tone down the 'end over specialist' to help him. Its very easy to get carried away and break him down. If he is good enough he will prove himself worthy of test cricket in due course.

Posted by CodandChips on (January 18, 2014, 14:22 GMT)

Promising all rounder. In my opinion the aussies should select him in all forms with the following line ups:

Test 1.Warner 2.Rogers 3.Hughes 4.Clarke 5.Smith 6.Haddin 7.Faulkner 8.Johnson 9.Siddle 10.Harris 11.Lyon

ODI 1.Warner 2.Finch 3.Watson 4.Clarke 5.Bailey 6.Maxwell 7.Haddin 8.Faulkner 9.Johnson 10.Harris 11.Doherty

Not too sure about your T20 players though. Perhaps 1.Warner 2.Finch 3.Watson 4.Bailey 5.Maxwell 6.(somebody who deos well in the BBL) 7.Haddin 8.Faulkner 9.Johnson 10.Harris 11.(Best spinner in BBL)

Posted by class9ryan on (January 18, 2014, 13:51 GMT)

He is been a victim of being called an end over specialist, that's why his economy rates look that high. Clarke should not give that many overs at the death to Faulkner, he is a big prospect but Australia have to find a stable 11 soon becoz of too many pacers in the mix which makes Australia play without a specialist spinner.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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