Australia in South Africa 2013-14 January 28, 2014

Faulkner ruled out of South Africa Test tour


James Faulkner has been ruled out of Australia's Test tour of South Africa due to a knee injury and Shaun Marsh and Jackson Bird are still in doubt and will remain in Australia for further assessment while the rest of the squad departs on Wednesday.

Faulkner has been replaced in the squad by fellow allrounder Moises Henriques, who played his only three Tests on the tour of India early last year and will fly to South Africa after playing in Wednesday's first Twenty20 against England in Hobart. Faulkner will have arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Tuesday after picking up an injury during Sunday's final one-day international against England in Adelaide.

"James' exact rehab plan and return to training and playing will be determined after surgery but unfortunately for him, he will not be available for the upcoming Test tour of South Africa," the team physio Alex Kountouris said. "We are hopeful that he will recover in time to play the Twenty 20 games on that tour and take part in the ICC World Twenty20."

Faulkner's presence in the Test squad would have given the selectors another option for balancing the side in South Africa if they chose to move the wicketkeeper Brad Haddin up to No.6. Henriques appears much less likely to play in the Tests than Faulkner would have; Henriques played three Sheffield Shield matches in the first half of the season and scored 202 runs at 33.66 and took five wickets at 36.60.

In the last Shield match before the break for the BBL, Henriques scored 127 against South Australia, and he said that innings helped him gain some momentum heading in to the Twenty20 tournament. The challenge of Test cricket in South Africa against an attack boasting the top two bowlers on the ICC's Test rankings will be immense, but Henriques believes his batting has improved in the past few seasons.

"I certainly feel like my batting has progressed over the last couple of years ... I feel like I'm learning quicker now," Henriques said. "It's going to be tough. It will be completely different conditions in South Africa so I'll have to learn on the go over there. Their bowling attack will be very different to the bowling attack that India threw at us in the Test series over there."

The Australians also have concerns over the fitness of Marsh, who strained his calf during the ODI victory in Adelaide. Marsh had been scheduled to travel to South Africa on Tuesday night but instead will remain in Perth for further treatment over the coming days and Cricket Australia said in a statement that "a decision on whether he will travel to South Africa will be made in due course".

Similar doubts will keep Bird in Australia while the rest of the squad departs. Bird jarred his back while fielding for the Melbourne Stars in a BBL match last week and Cricket Australia confirmed he will remain in Hobart "to be assessed by CA's medical staff and return to bowling to determine if he has recovered sufficiently enough to take his place on the South Africa tour".

Bird was unlikely to be in the starting XI for the first Test in Centurion, given the success of the pace trio of Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle during the Ashes. However, when the squad was named last week there appeared a strong chance that Marsh would be part of the starting XI, given the absence of the incumbent No.6 George Bailey from the squad.

The majority of Australia's Test players will depart for South Africa over the next two days, although their first official tour match does not begin until next Wednesday in Potchefstroom. Faulkner had been the only player from the Test squad also named for the T20s against England over the coming week; his place in the T20 squad will now be taken by the fast bowler Kane Richardson.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Peter on January 29, 2014, 6:14 GMT

    @Mitty2. Totally agree he is a batsman who bowls well, but no means a front line bowler. I was surprised that a bowling allrounder was replaced by a batting allrounder, that didn't make sense, but if Marsh does pull out perhaps they'll bring in a bowler although Hughes has the runs on the board to get first call. As much as I admire MoHen, I think he is still underdone for tests given the way he has been punted about this season, but I guess you take any opening offered. Too bad Cutting fell so far away after the Ryobi Cup, he did impress me greatly during it.

  • Dummy4 on January 28, 2014, 21:28 GMT

    really gutted for James Faulkner. this guy has great talent. and almost more important, is a real in your face cricketer. Australia's equivalent of Ben Stokes.

  • Philip on January 28, 2014, 20:42 GMT

    I don't know what all the worry is about. Philander, as pointed out in an article elsewhere in this site, is too slow to play for Australia (I'd also suggest he's too short). You could add to this that Steyn is probably too old and Morkel has a run-up that makes him look like a children's entertainer's portrayal of a popular blue tank engine. Australia's bowling, on the other hand, is the best in the world, so we've been told. So why the necessity for an all-rounder (like Faulkener or Henriques)? Maybe we should take a dose of the reality salts and just pick the best we've got based on actual FC/Test career records. There seems to be more mix 'n' match going on than you'll see on those lifestyle tv channels. I doubt the Saffers will be doing the same.

  • kieran on January 28, 2014, 12:40 GMT

    @ izzidole, Faulkner isn't even in the 1st Test XI, his absence hardly requires the filling of some mysterious massive void. Yes, he's showed promise, and one 4-match series is hardly sufficient to determine a players worth.

  • Izmi on January 28, 2014, 11:32 GMT

    Henriques is lucky to get selected again into the Australian cricket team after several failures and chances in the past. He is touted as a genuine allrounder by the selectors but has hardly delivered. He showed a lot of promise when he scored a brilliant 80 odd runs in the first test in India last year but just faded away after that and I reckon was dropped midway in the test series. This is another good opportunity for him to prove that he is good enough to replace the massive void created by the absence of James Faulkner. It's now high time for him to seal his place as a permanent member of the Australian cricket team in both test and limited overs cricket.

  • kieran on January 28, 2014, 11:02 GMT

    @ Mitty2, re: Henriques bowling, I can't recall how he fared with the ball in India (I may have repressed some of that tour) but generally when I see him bowl he isn't real quick, doesn't do a lot, just hits the spot and might nip it around a little...that could be just the ticket in SA.

    As for Bird's "jarred back", whatever the medical explanation, I did it as a young fella...could hardly breathe for 5 mins, couldn't walk for several hours without support, intense pain for a few days after but all good after a week or so. Could be bad for him, and he could be fine right now. I'd back him to be fit to tour.

  • anton on January 28, 2014, 10:01 GMT

    Henriques really needs to grab the opportunity should he get a chance to play. I doubt he will play in any of the tests. Don't rate Dan Christian at all as an allrounder in the longer form. I think Ben Cutting has potential to become a good allrounder but needs to improve his bowling. At the moment his bowling feels like it will be cannon fodder for quality batsmen. Cutting will definitely play a lot of T20I though. He hits sixes in the Big Bash almost at will.

    By the way, Ryse, I couldn't agree more with your following statement: "Test = best and by a long way, then t20, then ZZZ ODI"

    I really do find ODIs dull. I think ODIs are unnecessary now that T20s have really come on. Much of an ODI match is spent nurdling the ball around for 35-40 overs of the innings and the players just seem to go through the motions.

  • Hamish on January 28, 2014, 9:50 GMT

    @samgannon22, I think you're confusing Henriques for S Marsh...

  • Hamish on January 28, 2014, 9:40 GMT

    Hah, well done @chris_P. Have seen a few of your Henriques posts and there's definitely a lot of sense there. But whenever I see a 130-135 km/h seam bowling batting all rounder I think I automatically negatively stereotype it ;). Twatto has scarred me. But anyway, to that barely repressed India series, he was allowed to debut because of taking 4/10 on a tour match correct? Actually I think at that stage he was averaging 70 in the Shield (one big not out innings) so maybe I'm wrong, but I was pinning my hopes on his bowling. It was misplaced - he had a very good debut innings, was run out in another and was unlucky in one dismissal (and this all in very tough conditions) - but he disappointed with the ball (was trash actually). I can't base his bowling all on that one performance, but I'm of the view that he's a batter who bowls. He should be selected on his batting form, and ignoring the India odi fiasco he hasn't got the necessary FC form.

  • Trevor on January 28, 2014, 9:40 GMT

    I think it was a miracle that Australia beat England 5-0 in the Ashes. The only way that was every going to happen was for one or two Aussies to have the series of their lives and for England's far superior batting lineup to fail like they've never failed before. And that's exactly what happened. Us Aussie fans are in for a rude shock in the next few weeks when our team comes back to earth with a huge THUD. The staggeringly inept selectors aren't helping. I fee like we're about to see a repeat of the disastrous Indian tour from last year.

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