England v Australia, 5th Investec Ashes Test, The Oval August 20, 2013

Faulkner to debut, recall for Starc


James Faulkner, the bowling allrounder, will make his Test debut at The Oval on Wednesday and will bat at No.7 as the Australians search desperately for a way to end their failed Ashes campaign on a high. Faulkner and Mitchell Starc have been included for the final Test while Usman Khawaja and Jackson Bird have been dropped, and the batting order will be reshuffled to feature Shane Watson at No.3 and Brad Haddin at No.6.

The inclusion of Starc was expected but the naming of Faulkner was a major surprise given that it is Australia's batting that has been their biggest issue on this tour. Faulkner has scored 111 runs in the tour matches and has been dismissed only once, but there is no question that his bowling is his stronger suit: in 37 first-class matches, he has made eight half-centuries and is yet to register a hundred, but has 132 wickets at 22.87.

Faulkner will become the 17th player used by the Australians in this Ashes series, leaving backup wicketkeeper Matthew Wade as the only squad member not to have played a Test on the trip. He will also be Australia's 435th Test cricketer, and the 18th man to make his debut under the captaincy of Michael Clarke, who took charge only two and a half years ago. Clarke said Faulkner's fighting attitude was as much a reason for his inclusion as his record.

"As we've seen so far in this series, statistics, records, first-class performances haven't meant that much," Clarke said. "It's about finding a way on that day or over those five days to have success. I know James Faulkner has got the strength to do that whether it be with the bat or with the ball.

"Like a lot of our young players, he's a wonderful young talent. But I think he's got the toughness to mix it with any opposition in any form of the game at the highest level. He's a fighter. He's a competitor. He might not look the best all the time but he'll find a way to stay out there and help his partner go on and make a hundred, or make sure he's batting with the tail and find a way to get them through. I think he's got that in him.

"With the ball, he's extremely competitive and will find a way to take wickets, as he's done so far on this tour and in the shorter forms of the game. I think generally the better conditions are for batting, the better bowler James is, because he's at you all the time and he's extremely competitive. I think he's the right character for this team and I think you'll have a good opportunity to see just how much talent he's got in this Test match."

Faulkner will provide the Australians with a fifth seam-bowling option at The Oval, while Watson will be available to bowl despite picking up a groin injury during the Chester-le-Street Test. Watson's move to first drop will mean on this Ashes tour he has occupied the opening role, No.4 and No.6, and this year he will have batted in every position in the top six.

"Shane will be able to bowl," Clarke said. "Shane will certainly play that allrounder role once again. But I think it's an extra string to James' bow that he can bowl as many overs as possible. He's fit and strong and he'll play a big part with the ball. He adds that extra option to help us take 20 wickets.

"But I think it's the overall package that James brings: his toughness, his performances of late in whatever form of the game he's played, and the fact that he's not just a bowler, he can certainly make some very handy and crucial runs for us."

Faulkner will be the second debutant used by the Australians in the series after Ashton Agar played in the first two matches at Trent Bridge and Lord's. Agar will not be at The Oval for the final Test, though, as he will be sent home early due to illness.

"Ashton has had a mild viral illness for the past week and needs some time to rest and recuperate," team doctor Peter Brukner said. "It has been a long tour and while he has handled the pressure extremely well, we thought it would be a good idea for him to get home as soon possible to have a short break before preparing for the domestic season."

Australia: 1 Chris Rogers, 2 David Warner, 3 Shane Watson, 4 Michael Clarke (capt), 5 Steven Smith, 6 Brad Haddin (wk), 7 James Faulkner, 8 Peter Siddle, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Ryan Harris, 11 Nathan Lyon

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Christopher on August 22, 2013, 10:25 GMT

    The selectors have taken the only course open to them. There is no second spinner available with Agar ill and short of the mark at his age and experience, for Test, spin bowling. Both Starc and Faulkner have second strings to their bow, which lessens the pressure on their batting. Better to have two players capable of making contributions at some level. Neither Khawaja nor Hughes were instilling confidence. Khawaja has been out of form since Feb 2011 and was chosen for this tour on hope rather than performance. His fielding and running have been publicly criticised. Hughes has continued to demonstrate ability at 1st Class level but isn't the same prodigy who slew the mighty SA attack on their turf in '09.The front-on and leg-side game forced on him have left him with slower feet, a different arc of the bat and no room for the late adjustment to swing, spin and bounce that his original side-on game possessed. Unless he is encouraged to revert, it's hard to envision him succeeding.

  • sean on August 21, 2013, 17:58 GMT

    Lehman is foolishly brave, he should've tried all that with a A team first, or the Country have to wait for him to give results. too many bowlers, another much predicted lose end

  • Lalindra on August 21, 2013, 16:28 GMT

    10 years ago England was Australia's punching bag, Australia would even go to England and beat England pretty convincingly without a sweat, but then Michael Vaughn and his band of merry men turned the tables on the Aussies and they were even invited to the Buckingham Palace, and given OBE,MBE.The Strauss regime continued the good work, and now cook is even better at a even younger age than his predecessor's and he's hungry for more, 10 years ago what Australia was and now what they are no one would thought...now Australia are getting a taste of their own medicine and it is really sour...... oh.......what a petty Australia... the last seven years in test for England in ashes have enabled them to be a formidable side....the quality in which they have played ashes during the last seven to five years have enabled them to grow in to that superior position once held by their arch rivals.

  • James on August 21, 2013, 11:15 GMT

    5 man tail? I think that is a bit of a stretch, given that Starc and Faulkner are basically allrounders, and then both Harris and Siddle are decent with the bat. Still, a bit short on established top order batsmen, no doubt. But the way Khuwaja was moping around the crease, I don't think his absence will be felt.

    At any rate, this was a good toss to win, as has been the case for the entire series on tracks designed to spin for Swann late in the game. Lots of swing early on, but it will flatten out, and if Australia can go to lunch with no more than two down, they will be in a good position. If they get done for not much, then England will have a field day on day two when batting conditions will be perfect.

  • BN on August 21, 2013, 9:30 GMT

    Shane at no.3 is the right choice.This batting order is going to click.Itd gonna be a big victory for aussies.

  • Paul on August 21, 2013, 9:18 GMT

    Nothing wrong with looking at Faulkner, especially boosting the bowling with fitness issues of Watson and Harris. But it is the batting that is the problem. Will Watson be given an extended run at 3? Surprised it is not Hughes. If selecting on character and temperament, George Bailey must be in contention for the return series. Other than the dropped Khawaja, Australia appear no closer to identifying their top six or its order.

  • Graham on August 21, 2013, 9:14 GMT

    Faulkner is more than capable of averaging 30 that puts him in front of Khawaja. Feel sorry for Hughes though. Even Wade test record is mid 30's. Faulkner is a class player but not sure if his batting or bowling gets him into the team. His bowling is high class but we have several paceman inn front of him. As a batsman he is very handy but you wouldn't pick him purely as a batsman. I'm sure he will acquit himself very well but not sure he is a long time solution.

  • Dummy4 on August 21, 2013, 9:11 GMT

    Yikes, a five-man tail. With Smith at five (Test average under 30) and the keeper at six. Quite a risk.

  • seb on August 21, 2013, 8:59 GMT

    Thank heavens the Aussies have finally seen sense and ended their flirtation with Khawaja! Common sense finally prevails!

  • thava on August 21, 2013, 8:49 GMT

    i predict clarke will score a double ton in this match