The Ashes 2013

Faulkner prepared for extra batting responsibility

Brydon Coverdale

April 26, 2013

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James Faulkner drives the ball during his innings of 83 not out, Tasmania v Queensland, Sheffield Shield final, Hobart, March 25, 2013
James Faulkner scored 444 runs at 34.15 in the Sheffield Shield, ahead of other possible competitors © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: James Faulkner
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First and foremost, James Faulkner is a bowler: 111 Sheffield Shield wickets in the past three summers attest to that. But depending on the balance Australia's selectors want from the side during the Ashes, and contingent also on the form of the senior allrounder Shane Watson, Faulkner could find himself shouldering extra batting responsibility in his first Test series. There is even the possibility that at some point during the tour he could be used as a fifth bowler batting as high as No.7.

That might seem a stretch, but based on his first-class batting for Tasmania in the past summer it is not an absurd scenario. As well as collecting 39 Shield wickets at 20.33 on his way to a third consecutive Ricky Ponting Medal as his state's best player, Faulkner also finished the Shield season 15th on the competition run tally, having scored 444 runs at 34.15, including 89 in the final against Queensland.

Consider the list of batsmen who could have been vying for Test selection, yet scored fewer runs at a lower average: George Bailey (256 at 18.28), Rob Quiney (295 at 26.81), Michael Klinger (330 at 19.41), David Hussey (358 at 23.86), Adam Voges (388 at 25.86) and Peter Forrest (395 at 19.75). That might say more about the parlous state of batting in Australia's domestic competition than about Faulkner, who it must be said is yet to score a first-class hundred, but all the same his was a fine summer with bat and ball.

"I'd definitely be comfortable to bat at No.7," Faulkner said. "Whenever you can slot into an Australian team I think you're pretty happy to play wherever you can. It was a reasonably successful year last year with the bat for Tasmania. Hopefully I can make a few big scores, that's what I'm aiming to do at the moment."

Wickets, though, are Faulkner's stock in trade. He has been consistent enough over the past three seasons to collect Shield wicket tallies of 36, 36 and 39, and although he might not have the express pace of some Australian fast bowlers, his movement of the ball and accuracy have made him a dangerous prospect, and not just at Bellerive Oval - his average is below 22 at five different first-class venues around Australia.

"All the wickets around Australia are quite different," Faulkner said. "I'm based at Bellerive and people say you're bowling at Bellerive and there's a bit more grass there and so you'll take more wickets. But in fact if you look at all of our bowlers back home, I think all of us have been averaging the same at Bellerive as away from Bellerive.

"I just sum up the conditions as they are and just be consistent. I have a lot more confidence in my body. I'm [nearly] 23 now and I have more confidence in my body and can get through longer spells."

The Australian selectors like not only Faulkner's figures, but his attitude. The national selector John Inverarity this week referred to Faulkner as "a very competitive cricketer who gets things done". Over the past few months that included not only giving Chris Gayle a send-off during an ODI in Canberra, which cost him 10% of his match fee, but also steering Tasmania to the Shield title with a Man of the Match performance.

"I like to think I'm a pretty strong competitor on the field and off the field I'm a pretty relaxed sort of character," Faulkner said. "Definitely when the game is on the line or the game is in full flight I like to think I'm pretty aggressive in the way I play and get on the front foot instead of being dictated to."

Although the Ashes tour will be Faulkner's first trip to England, he has already gained some overseas experience thanks to his IPL duties for three different teams. A talented limited-overs player who has played T20 and one-day cricket for his country, Faulkner sold for $400,000 to the Rajasthan Royals this year but has not let the shortest format seduce him at the expense of first-class cricket.

"I've always tried to be as consistent as I can in Twenty20, one-day cricket and four-day cricket and not specifically have a focus on any of the three," he said. "I look at [the IPL] as a bit of an opportunity to progress my cricket on different grounds, different wickets, and in India it doesn't get any harder. There's lots of positives you can take away from playing in different countries. You gain experience pretty fast."

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

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Posted by MoreTestsNoT20 on (May 1, 2013, 7:09 GMT)

There is no way faulkner deserves a spot in the test team. He is not in our top 6 batsman and no way he is a better bowling option than either Siddle, Pattison, Harris, Starc or Bird. I am sick of selections like this and Maxwell in India. A test side the 6 best batsman, best keeper, best spinner and 3 best pace bowler.

Posted by ScottStevo on (April 30, 2013, 13:51 GMT)

@meety, if you look at his recent innings, I think you'll find he was looking pretty good - across all formats too. Nonetheless, the same could be said for just about every batsman vieing for selection in this Oz side. They all need to prove they can score runs in shield...I didn't see too many names averaging 50+ after a decent spell (not those who only played a few matches). In years gone by we had one or two blokes from each state knocking around that mark. Which is why we need to dismiss stats for a minute and look for a bloke that can do a job for us - but not just for one/two series.

Posted by AKS286 on (April 30, 2013, 7:56 GMT)

Every team has to face bad peiod and this is the bad phase of Aus cricket but After the retirement of Clarke Australia will build their fortress again and fight for become No.1 again.- Hope so.

Posted by Meety on (April 29, 2013, 22:41 GMT)

@ ScottStevo on (April 29, 2013, 12:33 GMT) - if you drew a line after Marsh was injured in SA, his form with the BAT is way less than the ones I mentioned. I wouldn't select Krezja & co, but I would BEFORE Marsh. SMarsh needs to put a case forward as to why he should get another Test since he was dropped. There is no way any case can be put forward, based on his last 15 months or so. In that time, Copeland has hit a Shield ton, & I think is currently averaging 97 in County cricket with the bat (two innings from #11). I honestly would feel more secure (right now), if he was in the top 6 than Marsh. S Marsh needs to go back & score tons in the Shield & be in the top 5 run-getters. Cosgrove deserves more of a shot.

Posted by Nicely_Time.Man on (April 29, 2013, 19:07 GMT)

If we compare Faulkner's comments about IPL Vs M.Taylor's word about IPL-- I think Faulkner is more matured than Taylor.

Posted by Nicely_Time.Man on (April 29, 2013, 18:57 GMT)

@AKS286 Yes I agree to you M.Taylor & Nasir Hussain are the example of poor selection. Domestic records are not consistent. In every new season flop becomes hit and hit becomes flop, Very few are having consistent performance. @ Amith_S on (April 29, 2013, 8:51 GMT) & Mary_786 on (April 29, 2013, 11:19 GMT) You all said that Aus need solid 6 batsmen then why analyzing Siddle, Starc batting? Aus need wickets from bowler not runs even ducks are heartily accepted but not applied for wickets. Warner, Hughes, Marsh/Finch, Clarke,Voges, Watson, Haddin, Hilfy, Siddle, Pattinson, S'oK.

Posted by ScottStevo on (April 29, 2013, 12:33 GMT)

@meety, Then you and I have different criteria for selecting a batsman on their technique and class, my friend! One of the players you mentioned in your first 2 sentences has both of these things, the rest don't. Krezja has a half decent season with the bat and all of the sudden you'd select him as a bat... Seriously?? (I'm sure you wouldn't!) This is the exact problem with our selection policies at the moment. We're not selecting guys based on their skills and their potential abilities to play test match cricket, we're bringing in flash in the pan types who have had one half decent season, or done well in a T20 match or two. Stats don't tell the whole picture. Granted they're a decent indicator, but we shouldn't make selections completely governed by them.

Posted by Mary_786 on (April 29, 2013, 11:19 GMT)

Amith i like your top 8 in Warner, Cowan, Hughes, Khawaja, Clarke, Watson, Haddin, Faulkner, it works for me too, however I would also be ok to have a Siddle at 8 or Starc at 8 as they are useful batsman.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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