Faulkner criticises England tactics
James Faulkner has learnt the Australian art of sledging the English. Even after only four days of his Test career. Even when he hasn't taken a Test wicket. Even at 3-0 down in an Ashes series. Not surprisingly, Faulkner is a favourite of Shane Warne, the man who captained him at the Melbourne Stars, promoted him as a Test cricketer and presented him with his baggy green on the first morning at The Oval.
"The way they batted yesterday, they chose to bat that way. If you're 3-0 up there's no reason why you shouldn't push and try to be 4-0 up," Faulkner said after the washed-out fourth day at The Oval, and following a third day on which England had scored 215 in 98 overs. "That's their choice ... I know the fans get a refund for their ticket today but maybe they should've for yesterday."
There is no question that Faulkner was selected in part to see what he could bring to Test cricket and to assess him ahead of the home Ashes, and because it was believed that he would add some toughness to a side that had perhaps been lacking it. In the Sheffield Shield, Faulkner is a wicket-taker - he has picked up 111 in his past three seasons - but he found it tough going on day three against England, who took only 29 runs from his 12 overs but offered no real chances.
"It didn't surprise me. Any time they feel threatened they sort of go in their shell and play pretty defensive cricket. That didn't really surprise me at all," Faulkner said of England's approach. "I think when they come to Australia it's going to be played on our terms and I think they'll be in for a hell of a challenge back home."
Whether Faulkner is part of that home series remains to be seen. Graham Gooch, as England's batting coach, will have a major role in preparing his batsmen for the different challenges of an Ashes series in Australia, where the pitches are expected to have more bounce and carry. He said it was understandable Australia would be frustrated at the match situation but that England were comfortable with their position.
"The Australian fast bowlers have bowled exceptionally in the last two or three Tests and they've really put our top order under pressure," Gooch said. "Credit to them. Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle in particular have been exceptional. We'd have liked to be in a slightly different position, a more advanced position, but it didn't happen. It's not the end of the world. We're not frustrated, because we're the ones with three Test wins, they're the ones with nil Test wins.
"I don't think any team goes out there to bat slowly. Sometimes you find the conditions a little bit easier to score than others. We certainly would've liked to have scored quicker. But we want to compete every ball and play tight, and we didn't move the score along as we'd have liked. Sometimes that happens in Test cricket. Sometimes you score 300 in a day, sometimes it's a bit harder work."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here