CHENNAI: James Faulkner is an enigmatic cricketer. On his day, he can win a limited-over match with either bat or ball. Known to be a finisher in the former role, his left-arm bowling is not to be underestimated, as a Man of the Match performance in the 2015 World Cup final would testify.
He can also be inconsistent, and unruly. He was suspended for drunken driving in 2015, dropped for the 2017 Champions Trophy, but Faulkner keeps coming back. “It was pretty tough,” he said on missing Champions Trophy. “You ask any player when you get left out, it’s not great fun. But at the end of the day, it’s up to you to be back. I’m excited to back. I don’t really want to talk about the past. It’s a good opportunity against a tough opposition in their own country. India are in really good nick. It’s going to be a test,’’ said Faulkner after a practice session at Chepauk on Monday.
Australian selectors believe in horses for courses and Faulkner is a handy package in these conditions, with his cutters and destructive batting. “Faulkner’s vast experience of playing in the sub-continent has helped him earn a recall. He played in the IPL this year as well (for Gujarat Lions). He is aware of the conditions,” said a source close to the team think tank.
During the time away from international cricket, the Tasmanian used the break to keep in shape and fine-tune his game. “I had four months away from the game. I had a bit of pre-season training which has been nice, to get strong and fit. I’ve been battling, to be honest, probably the last 18 months. It’s good to be back with my teammates and hit the gym hard. Just physically with my knee and the state it has been in.. It’s as good as it has been at the moment and I’m happy now,’’ revealed Faulkner.
During the time that he was out, did he get feedback from the selectors? “Not too much, to be honest. The pace has dropped down a little bit maybe. I didn’t have too much (pace) to be honest. I just reflected on myself and wanted to get back in the team, by working as hard as I could,’’ said Faulkner.
Despite being a seasoned pro, the all-rounder says team members do not need his advice. “I don’t have any message for the boys. Most of the boys have played here in the IPL and in the T20 World Cup. We will talk about the opposition in team meetings,’’ explained the 27-year old.
Australia’s rotation policy of having specialists for the different formats has served them well. Those who came here for the ODI and T20 series and were not part of the Test squad in Bangladesh look fresh. “In any team the change in format brings in different faces. It freshens up the group and obviously the one-day group is excited to see the boys who have come from Bangladesh.”