Home > Features >

James Faulkner’s untimely injury can hurt Australia’s chances in South Africa

James Faulkner has a fine First-Class record © Getty Images
James Faulkner has a fine First-Class record to his name © Getty Images

By Adrian Meredith

Australian all-rounder, James Faulkner played only one Test in England at Oval. Unfortunately, he sat on the sidelines for the reaming part of the Ashes series. As he sat on the sidelines, a slew of specialist batsmen failed. Faulkner though, showed his class by arguably turning out to be the best player for Australia in the final Test at Oval. In the Australian leg of the Ashes, he missed out every single game, as George Bailey was preferred. But, with Bailey not even in the squad to play South Africa, was a fully fit Faulkner going to play?

The fact is that if Faulkner wasn’t going to play, then him breaking down with injury isn’t a concern. Moises Henriques, his replacement, is therefore not going to play either. No big deal.

However, Alex Doolan has been picked to replace Bailey as a batsman. They have similar First-Class records, but there is a sense that Doolan is a big game player, as seen by how well he did in Australia A games. There is a hope by selectors that come the Test matches; he will play above his average. Michael Clarke, remember, had a pretty ordinary First-Class record too, before he played his first Test. Even now, Clarke’s First-Class record, if you don’t count his Test match performances is still ordinary. Clarke is a big game player. Perhaps Doolan is too.

On the other hand, Shaun Marsh was seen as the spare batsman, in case Doolan didn’t work out. Marsh himself was hinted at being a big game player too, and was, at least until he had a shocking loss in form.

But now Phil Hughes is being seen as the spare batsman, after Marsh was injured. And Hughes is far from being a big game player. Hughes, largely scores runs against weak teams. First-Class level bowlers can’t get him out, but fine international bowlers have no problem in outfoxing him. His technique has been exposed by bowlers from England, India and New Zealand. But not South Africa. And perhaps they won’t.  Hughes has generally feasted on their bowlers before. Perhaps he will do it again. But more likely, South Africa would have learnt from their mistakes.

The above scenarios show the importance of Faulkner. In case, Doolan won’t turn into a big game player and South Africa’s bowlers have figured out Hughes’s technique. Then Faulkner would have come into the equation.

Faulkner is a mighty good bowler, and him being suggested as not Test quality is a myth. His First-Class record is superb and his Test record, from just one game reads as six wickets at an average of 16, which is pretty good as well. His Test batting average of 21 is pretty decent though, it has to be said that we are thinking of just one Test here. And in addition, his First-Class record suggests that he is no fluke.

Actually, Faulkner could have thrived in South Africa. The selectors would have been down to deciding one out of him or Doolan for the first Test. Yes, Faulkner would make the batting weaker, but the bowling would look stronger on paper. It would change the balance of the team. But Australian think-tank would have seriously considered him as an option.

Henriques does not have the record of Faulkner. While Faulkner is consistently good, Henriques is terrible most of the times. He does well on that odd occasion. In India, he had a decent debut Test, but then lost his way. This is mirrored in his domestic games too.

There is no question that Faulkner is a better player than Henriques. Faulkner has fans galore, who believe he is a fine player. He won matches for Australia from nowhere in India and in Australia, albeit at the One-Day International (ODI) level. Henriques compared to it hasn’t been up to the mark.

Had the selectors wanted a similar replacement for Faulkner, they should have picked Luke Butterworth, a similar bowler to Faulkner, who also plays for Tasmania. Just because Butterworth doesn’t play in the Big Bash League (BBL) they have perhaps decided on not considering him. But Butterworth is still better than Henriques.

So, now Australia are left in a situation, where Phil Hughes can’t be risked and the same can be said about Henriques. It means Doolan has to play every Test.

In the bowling stakes, of course Australia have James Pattinson, who should be the country’s best bowler, but at the moment is yet to return to top form. There is Jackson Bird as a second back up bowler. One of those two will play, if Australia want to go for an all out pace attack, or if there is an injury.

Faulkner’s absence has in many ways ruined Australia’s preparation. Is the writer opining that Australia can’t win? Almost. Now, the hunch on  Doolan has to pay off or else Australia can be in trouble. There is no longer any Plan B.

(Adrian Meredith, an Australian from Melbourne, has been very passionate about cricket since he was seven years old. Because of physical challenges he could not pursue playing the game he so dearly loved. He loves all kinds of cricket – from Tests, ODIs, T20 – at all levels and in all countries and writes extensively on the game)

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 20, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Kolkata

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Dubai

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (19:00 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014 (09:30 IST)   at Dhaka

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014 (03:00 IST)   at Hamilton

More

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 24, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 72 runs

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 21, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 6 wkts

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 17, 2014  at Dharamsala

India won by 59 runs

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 14, 2014  at Visakhapatnam

Match cancelled

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 12, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Australia won by 1 run

Photos

Pakistan vs Australia, 1st Test at Dubai

Videos

AB de Villiers praises team after win in 1st ODI

Viv Richards’ 6/41 bowls West Indies to a thrilling victory over India

Asad Shafiq emerges as dependable No 6 for Pakistan

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Mitchell Johnson shows signs of effectiveness on unhelpful surfaces

South Africa vs New Zealand 2014: Vital for Brendon McCullum to find form quickly

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 India New Zealand New Zealand vs South Africa New Zealand vs South Africa 2014 Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Africa South Africa tour of New Zealand 2014 South Africa vs New Zealand South Africa vs New Zealand 2014

Sachin has been my mentor and a guide, says Yuvraj Singh

Australia reeling at 281/8 at Tea on Day 3 of the 1st Test match against Pakistan

Michael Holding insists that ICC is 20 years late on crackdown over chucking

MS Dhoni has done a commendable job as India captain, says Yuvraj Singh

Michael Holding insists that MS Dhoni is no longer ‘innovative and proactive’

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Spin hunt continues for visitors

Sarfaraz Ahmed may have trumped the Akmals as Pakistan’s wicketkeeper-batsman across formats

Don Bradman — even if every chance he ever gave in his career was accepted, he would still remain head and shoulders above the others

Len Hutton’s hundred gets reported as illness

Viv Richards’ 6/41 bowls West Indies to a thrilling victory over India

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

642 Posts | 9 Fans

Virat Kohli's Family Meets Anushka Sharma

Top Sex Positions: Frog Princess

Happy New Year box office: Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone’s film off to a flying start!

Nokia turnaround since handset unit sale continues, reports $950 million Q3 net profit

‘Kaththi’ mints Rs.15.4 crore on release day

Google partners Oxford University to teach machines to think

Rashami Desai, Ravi Dubey, Tina Dutta wish to have a pet friendly Diwali!

How to make tamarind or imli packs for hair and skin

Happy New Year movie review: Crafted to please Shah Rukh Khan fans

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here