Home > Features >

Why Australia need James Faulkner the bowler more than the finisher

James Faulkner © Getty Images
Australia should look at James Faulkner as a quality pacer with gifted batting abilities © Getty Images

By R Vishal

The stage is Perth, Western Australia and Australia was playing lowly West Indies in a five match series in to kick off 2013. Tidy bowling from the visitors had reduced the Aussies to 98 for six and in walked a Tasmanian; steely eyed, confident and ready to support the well set George Bailey at the other end.

One couldn’t help but wonder why he was promoted ahead of Mitchell Johnson, whose abilities with the bat are very impressive for a lower order batsman but James Peter Faulkner was determined to give as much of the strike to Bailey, who went to score a hundred and Faulkner didn’t do too bad for his first knock, scoring a painstaking 39 of 67 balls, immediately cementing his reputation as a tail-ender who could stick around if the team needed him to.

Buoyed by his stellar performances in Indian Premier League (IPL) 6, Faulkner went from strength to strength in the latter albeit with his batting; something that puzzled the Australian team management. A gritty half-century in a losing cause against England in the ICC Champions Trophy earned him the tour to India for a five match One Day International (ODI) series.

This series will be remembered by the Australian fans for the birth of Faulkner, the destructive lower order batsman. From a seemingly improbable position, Faulkner’s brutal assault on Ishant Sharma and his phenomenal ton in Bangalore, yet again while chasing affirmed his place as a lower order player to reckon with.

After pulling a rabbit out of the hat yet again in the first one-dayer against England, clearing the massive Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) with ease and playing with just the number 11, while having to chase down more than 50 runs, the 23 year-old has become the latest blue eyed boy of Australian cricket with many calls for Faulkner being promoted up the order.

This sort of a catch-22 situation has cropped up with many a lower order batsman in the past. Australian think-tank, however, should refrain from moulding Faulkner into anything more than a quality pacer with gifted batting abilities.

With Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle tearing England to smithereens in the Ashes whitewash, the bowling department of Australia suddenly looks like the most venomous pace battery in the world. But out of the three, Siddle will be in the team for few more years to come and as to how long Johnson’s brilliance would carry on is anybody’s guess and Harris will continue to soldier on before his crocked knee runs out of steam.

Young turks such as Pat Cummins and James Pattinson have been also been sidelined by several injury layoffs in their fledgling carrier and an uncertainty remains over the duo’s endurance levels.

Faulkner’s door now is wide open and he should focus on improving his bowling abilities and leave the batting to the enigmatic lower order bunch to sort out. With Australia having set their sights on winning back the ICC World Cup on home soil nest year, Faulkner would be licking his lips in excitement to cement a place in the starting lineup.

Even then, promotion up the order, with the team management going by the age old adage that the big hitting lower order batman who can score invaluable runs can give teams quick runs at the start has often backfired.

In Australia’s upcoming tour of South Africa, along with Shaun Marsh and newbie Alex Doolan, Faulkner is discussed as a possible Number 4 batsman in Tests.

However hard it is, for all their quick-fix solutions, persisting with a quality Test ‘batsman’ should be the norm. Faulkner should rise as a pacer more than his ‘Iceman’ like wizardry with the bat.

(R Vishal is a journalist and an alumni of the Asian School of Journalism. He can be followed on Twitter @vishhell)

Bangladesh Tour of West Indies, 2014

Aug 20, 2014 (19:00 IST)   at St George's, Grenada

South Africa in Zimbabwe, 2014

Aug 21, 2014 (13:00 IST)   at Bulawayo

Bangladesh Tour of West Indies, 2014

Aug 22, 2014 (19:00 IST)   at St George's, Grenada

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 23, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Hambantota

India tour of England 2014

Aug 25, 2014 (15:00 IST)   at Bristol

More

South Africa in Zimbabwe, 2014

Aug 19, 2014  at Bulawayo

South Africa won by 61 runs

South Africa in Zimbabwe, 2014

Aug 17, 2014  at Bulawayo

South Africa won by 93 runs

India tour of England 2014

Aug 15, 2014  at London

England won by an innings and 244 runs

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 14, 2014  at Colombo

Sri Lanka won by 105 runs

South Africa in Zimbabwe, 2014

Aug 9, 2014  at Harare

South Africa won by 9 wkts

Photos

Highlights of Mahela Jayawardene’s Test career

Videos

Hughes explains technique behind cut shot

Will Duncan Fletcher exit, or will he hang on and risk getting sacked?

India’s coaching saga: Need stable options leading up to the ICC World Cup 2015

Ravi Shastri’s appointment could be the last straw for Duncan Fletcher

Michael Vaughan and his Twitter misdemeanours

Ravi Shastri will be His Master’s Voice; Joe Dawes and Trevor Penney convenient ‘bakras’

England England vs India England vs India 2014 India India tour of England 2014 India vs England India vs England 2014 Pakistan Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka 2014 Pakistan vs Sri Lanka Pakistan vs Sri Lanka 2014 Sri Lanka Sri Lanka vs Pakistan Sri Lanka vs Pakistan 2014

Sachin Tendulkar to attend conference on ethical sports leadership

India women, England women face off in World Cup qualifiers

Hashim Amla to be rested from 3rd ODI against Zimbabwe

BKS Iyengar, Sachin Tendulkar’s instructor and yoga legend, passes away at 95

Imran Khan – Nawaz Sharif meeting announcement turns out to be fake

India tour of Australia 2014-15: 5 ways India can avoid another overseas embarrassment

MS Dhoni can benefit from borrowing the ‘Sourav Ganguly School of leadership’

Ravi Shastri inspired confidence as player and captain: Will he do it in a coaching capacity?

Bernard Tancred: Best batsman of the first South African side

BCCI appoints Justice Mudgal to probe India’s overseas defeats

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

659 Posts | 6 Fans

India tour of England 2014: Sunil Gavaskar says Indian batsmen did not learn anything

Rani Mukerji turns into a photographer!

India women, England women face off in World Cup qualifiers

Dr Harsh Vardhan promises to put healthcare before politics

MS Dhoni can benefit from borrowing the ‘Sourav Ganguly School of leadership’

Gaza war resumes with deadly strikes, rocket fire

Hansika Motwani brings ALS ice bucket challenge to Kollywood!

178 million phones at security risk in Middle East, Africa: Report

How to be in a new relationship after a bad break-up

Karbonn Titanium S19 selfie smartphone featuring a 5-megapixel front-facing camera and Android KitKat launched for Rs 8,999

NHRC notice to Gujarat govt over poor facilities

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here