When James Faulkner made his international debut in February last year, he was primarily seen as a left-arm pace bowler, who had the ability to take wickets, and had demonstrated the same for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL as well as for his domestic side Tasmania. But, over the last year he has proved that there is more to him than just his handy left-arm seam bowling. In fact, more than his bowling, it has been his batting that has stood out, and his performances with the willow have been nothing short of sensational.
Faulkner’s smashing innings in the second ODI at Brisbane when everything seemed lost was an exhibition of his amazing talent and also his self-confidence. With plenty of runs to get, and only one wicket in hand, no one gave the Aussies the chance, but Faulkner had another ideas, and batted in unbelievable fashion to take the hosts to a victory that was nothing short of miraculous. In the preview to the second ODI, it was mentioned that England needed to believe in themselves to win. They did exude some confidence, but as soon as Faulkner began his dominance, England cowed down from a winning position.
The impressive aspect of Faulkner is that his sensational effort at Brisbane was not the first time he had pulled off the incredible for the Aussies. No one would forget that a few months back in India, he blasted an unbeaten 64 from 29 balls to take Australia to victory literally from thin air. This was the same game in which he famously hit Ishant Sharma for 30 runs in an over. Only a couple of games later, Faulkner put together another incredible innings. Although it was in a losing cause, his 116 form 73 balls at Bangalore was a classy knock.
Of course, the innings at Brisbane was the best of them all considering the circumstances. Australia were 244 for 9 in the 44th over chasing 301 when Mitchell Johnson fell. Neither did Australia have wickets in hand not did they have too many balls to get the amount of runs needed to win. Even with everything going against him, Faulkner showed the tenacity to pull Australia through in what will go down as one of the greatest one-day heists witnessed in modern times. Australia would hope that many such efforts would follow from Faulkner.
While Faulkner featured in only 21 one-dayers, he already has an impressive record, 477 runs at an average of 53 with one hundred and three fifties. The left-hander also has an amazing strike rate of 120. So brilliant has Faulkner been with the ball that we tend to forget the fact that he was actually chosen in the team as a bowler. His record as a pace bowler isn’t bad either – 28 wickets from 21 matches averaging 33.6 with a best of 4/48. His economy rate of under 6 is also acceptable. But, it is as a dashing lower order bat that he has made a serious impression.
--By A Cricket Analyst