Faulkner anointed a leader for future
James Faulkner has joined Steven Smith in the front rank of Australia's leadership prospects for the future following his unveiling as Australia A captain for a quartet of four-day matches against the A teams of India and South Africa in July and August.
At the ages of 24 and 25 respectively, Faulkner and Smith are the two young men being guided in the direction of future national captaincy appointments by Cricket Australia, having impressed with their growing poise on the filed and maturity away from it.
Smith led New South Wales to the Sheffield Shield title in Canberra earlier in the year, and now Faulkner is set to test his leadership skills in the series of top end matches devised to prepare Australia's Test and limited overs reservists for future call-ups for international duty. Captaincy experience as a junior and the wisdom of his Tasmanian mentors Dan Marsh and George Bailey will inform Faulkner's ways.
He will likewise call on the memories of some stunning displays for Tasmania and Australia, highlighting an ability to play with both passion and calculation, but also the more chastening experience of having public words about the West Indies rebound on him during the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh.
"James is a young man with plenty of character and possesses a great desire to win," the new National Selector Rod Marsh said of Faulkner. "He is still developing as an all-rounder but we believe this captaincy provides him an opportunity to do that as well as develop his leadership skills."
Three varied squads have been chosen for the matches against the India and South Africa XIs, with a wide array of batsmen, bowlers and allrounders given chances across opponents and formats. Alex Doolan and Phillip Hughes will hope for runs to bolster their incumbent places as members of the Test squad, while Faulkner, Moises Henriques and Mitchell Marsh will stretch each other to prove their worth as the most viable allround option for the future.
Cameron Boyce and Steve O'Keefe were the two spinners chosen for the fixtures, the latter needing to recover from off-season shoulder surgery in order to be fit in time for the chance to bowl to the South Africans in Townsville. Western Australia's Sam Whiteman has the gloves for the first fixtures in Brisbane, but hands them over to Peter Nevill for the remainder.
Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon were not formally named in the squad, but Marsh indicated that either or both may play depending on their pre-season schedules ahead of Australia's tours to Zimbabwe and the UAE.
Clint McKay's inclusion in the limited overs squad keeps him in the frame as an ODI bowler, despite his omission from the annual naming of CA contracts. Another Victorian, the well-travelled Cameron White, will lead the limited overs team.
In the midst of his recovery from hefty knee surgery, Ryan Harris will try his hand as pace bowling coach during the series, alongside the overall guidance of Michael Di Venuto.
Australia A squads
Four-day matches against India XI in Brisbane: James Faulkner (capt), Cameron Boyce, Ben Cutting, Alex Doolan, Peter Forrest, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Phillip Hughes, Chris Lynn, Mitchell Marsh, Kane Richardson, Chadd Sayers, Sam Whiteman (wk)
One day matches in Darwin and Palmerston: Cameron White (capt), Cameron Boyce, Pat Cummins, Ben Cutting, Alex Doolan, Callum Ferguson, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Phillip Hughes, Chris Lynn, Mitchell Marsh, Clint McKay, Peter Nevill (wk), Kane Richardson
Four-day matches against South Africa XI in Townsville: James Faulkner (capt), Jason Behrendorff (subject to fitness), Tom Cooper, Ben Cutting, Callum Ferguson, Peter Forrest, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Phillip Hughes, Chris Lynn, Peter Nevill (wk), Steve O'Keefe (subject to fitness), Chadd Sayers.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig