The Ashes 2013-14

Lehmann ponders Faulkner inclusion

Daniel Brettig in Adelaide

November 30, 2013

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James Faulkner appeals for the wicket of Alastair Cook, England v Australia, 5th Investec Test, The Oval, 5th day, August 25, 2013
Australia will consider including James Faulkner for his second Test © Getty Images
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James Faulkner looms as an addition to Australia's bowling attack for Adelaide while George Bailey may be demoted to drinks duty after only one match as the coach Darren Lehmann considers the best way to use his resources in the second Ashes Test without exhausting them before the third.

The hosts will assemble in Adelaide over the next 24 hours, Lehmann arriving early to take a first look at the oval's new drop-in pitch and also assess the new environs of a ground changed irrevocably by its conversion to an AFL-approved stadium.

Already the selectors and the team performance manager Pat Howard have drawn up plans to have reserve pacemen rested from the Sheffield Shield and on call for the third Test in Perth on the assumption that Adelaide's surface will require hard toil, having not deteriorated significantly in its domestic dress rehearsals.

But the selection of Faulkner as a bowling allrounder is another option they will weigh up, the better to allow the likes of Ryan Harris, Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle to operate in shorter spells so they stand a better chance of backing up successfully for the WACA ground. Faulkner's improving batting and reliable seam-up left-arm bowling offer an attractive package on a surface where batsmen have not been troubled by anything like the steepling bounce of the Gabba.

"I'm really happy with the 12 we have put together and the 11 did the job in Brisbane and now it's a case of working out what the best 11 is to get a result here," Lehmann said. "James brings a real competitive streak, he showed that at The Oval. He has done well to retain his place in the 12 from The Oval and was unlucky to miss out in Brisbane. He reverses the ball, he's got good control and he has a crack, which we like.

"We might have to come up with a few different plans, and that is just part and parcel of the different wickets you get around the country so that is no different for us, adapting to the different styles and we will have to play a different style this game but still be very aggressive in what we do. In Brisbane obviously it had some pace and bounce in it, Adelaide might be a bit different, but it might reverse a bit more and spin a bit more so we just have to sum that as we go. The key is first innings of both sides, making sure you make some big runs or limit the opposition."

Lehmann mentioned the improving fitness of Shane Watson as another key to preserving Harris in particular. Watson delivered only two overs of medium pace at the Gabba but will be more capable of stepping in with the ball in Adelaide, while he also seeks runs after looking a little out of sorts in Brisbane.

"Yes, if he's fully fit, he'll play. I have said that all along, we're not changing our stance on that. If he is fit to play, he will play," Lehmann said of Harris. "I reckon he is going to be fit, at the moment they're all fit, so we're okay. We have an advantage with Shane Watson bowling more this Test match, he didn't have to bowl as much as we thought in the last one, so that is an advantage as well, but Ryan is a key player."

Adelaide has recently indulged in a debate over South Australia's greatest song, and Lehmann said he was keen to ensure his men were not to become known as "one-hit wonders" after their success in Queensland. A 2-0 or even 1-0 scoreline entering the third Test at the WACA ground would provide the hosts with a hugely advantageous hand with three matches to play.

"It's just one Test match so we have got to play well, back that up, and show we're the side we want to become, not just one-hit wonders, if you like," Lehmann said. "Play a brand of cricket that is strong, competitive each and every day, each and every session, and if we do that, we know we will get the results. But we can't just rest on our laurels after one Test.

"As always, you enjoy celebrations after a success, and you should do, it's a tough game, as we know, and it has been a while since we won a Test match so it's good we have done that, we have achieved that, and now it's get ready for Adelaide. They will come back really hard, we know England are a good cricket team and we'll have to be ready to play."

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

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by mukkas on (December 3, 2013, 21:56 GMT)

Am I the only one who thinks Shane Watson is over rated? Why would you need Faulkner if Watson could reliably deliver four or five 3 overs spells during the course of an innings - without pulling a heart string? Maybe Faulkner should be in for Watson - he surely isn't going to do any worse with the bat, and better with the ball.

Posted by AussieSam on (December 3, 2013, 11:53 GMT)

Faulkner might only average 30 in first class cricket but he averages 23 with the ball. Surely that is good enough to be picked as an all-rounder. And let's not forget that if we were going solely on first class averages then Bailey wouldn't be picked at all. Like Bailey, Faulkner has shown in ODIs that he responds well to the pressure of playing international cricket, where he averages above 45. I do think that Bailey should come back for Perth but if Faulkner plays well again here, like he did in his debut at the Oval, then Australia find themselves in a good position of being able to pick either 6 batsmen with Bailey, or 5 and an all-rounder with Faulkner for good batting surfaces. Hopefully Bailey shows in this series that he is worthy of being in the top 6 in Test cricket because if does then we have a very solid squad to take to SA next year.

Posted by AussieSam on (December 3, 2013, 11:34 GMT)

How can so many people think Watson should be dropped? He made 176 one Test ago. You don't drop a batsman who's just made 176. Yes, it was a long time coming and maybe he'll never make a century again but he has to at least be picked for the rest of the series. Also, his bowling in England wasn't just the stuff of a batsman who can bowl a bit. At one point he bowled I think 8 maidens out of 9 overs. The pressure that creates in a Test match is gold. I think the only reason he didn't get wickets was because England recognised that his bowling is one of Australia's strengths (one they aren't able to match) so they planned to play him conservatively as possible. Also there were a few times where catches didn't go to hand and he had very close lbw calls go against him. There is no way Watson will be dropped for Faulkner. That would be a worse selection decision than Lyon being dropped for Agar in England, and Doherty in India, which were both terrible decisions.

Posted by   on (December 3, 2013, 3:23 GMT)

Australian selectors seem to only watch international cricket and completely ignore the Sheffield Shield and County competitions.

Having Watson, Bailey and Faulkner in a top 7 that has been underperforming and inconsistent as Australia have been is poor thinking. Australia were bailed out by Haddin and Johnson in the first test and batted freely in the second innings because they had such a big lead going in.

Watson's bowling is more than useful, and justifies at least giving him as many chances as he's had, and he's been good at times, it's been a while since he's been consistent though, but there's no reason Australia can't win matches with only four bowlers and six batsmen, we've done it most of the time we've been playing Test cricket!

Posted by   on (December 3, 2013, 2:53 GMT)

England need Cook to stay long time at crease at least for 90 overs , with a set batsman at the top of order players like KP,Prior can fire . Cook vs Harris will decide the Adelaide test.

Posted by Wefinishthis on (December 3, 2013, 2:22 GMT)

Faulkner is not an all-rounder. He is a bowler who is handy with the bat sometimes. How can an all-rounder be considered a batsmen when the has NEVER scored a single FC century, in fact not even a FC 90 and his average of 30 is inflated by the no. of not outs at the bottom of the order. His slogging in ODI's has been good so far and even then he's only scored 1 century in 38 innings. I'm a huge fan of his, but he is NOT a top 6 batsman! He is a bowler first and foremost and he should replace MJ or Siddle.

Posted by dutchy on (December 2, 2013, 21:40 GMT)

This is MADNESS. We have weak batting so they want to replace a batsman with a player who averages 30 with the bat at first class level? This all rounder obsession helped destroy Australia in India (does anyone now think picking Henriques and Maxwell was a good decision?) It is insanity.

Posted by OzMongrel on (December 2, 2013, 17:50 GMT)

Faulkner, Watson and Lyon will be crucial in Adelaide. The first two first class games played on the new drop in pitches showed that guile was far more important than brute force - wickets fell to the spinners far more often than to the quicks. The English pace attack lacks true powers of deception, and may be found out, but Bresnan will not be easy to face on days 4&5. Very important toss to win, as on each of the fourth days in the two Shield matches played on the drop-in pitches the ball has started to do a bit here and there, which can only suggest that Day 5 will be it's usual difficult self in Adelaide. Either Swann or Lyon will be licking their chops. However, Mitchell seems to have remembered how to get nasty bounce out of flat wickets, so if he fires again, only rain will save England.

Posted by ScottStevo on (December 2, 2013, 17:18 GMT)

@Chris_P, where are you peddling these rubbish stats from - and just how many times do I have to correct you on it...For starters, who cares about FC stats?! Seriously, when Watson has played only FC matches for Aus, you're including his warm up matches rather than just purely basing it on test matches, which is what we're concerned with. To that extent Watson averages 36 with the bat and around 60 with the ball. Push that out by a year and he averages 35 in the last 3 years with the ball. Oddly enough, I've thought Watson has bowled better recently than he ever has, but he's not been collecting anywhere near as many wickets although has become better economically. Returning to his batting, I'm surprised Watson's avg is even 35 the way that Arthur had him removed from opener (where he avgs 41) for Cowan then shifted him up and down the order like a yo-yo. He averages 51 @ 3, so maybe it's not too bad for him at all...But lets all say he's no good at 3.

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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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