Australia news January 18, 2014

Faulkner key to Australia's WC 2015 plans

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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