James Faulkner hopes for a revival

Having first lost his place in the Australian squad, then the CA central retainer, Faulkner, remained unsold in the IPL player auction as well.

James Faulkner attributed his inconsistent performances to a knee injury that had troubled him for a long time.   -  R. Ragu

Three years ago, James Faulkner was the toast of the cricketing globe, having earned the Man of the Match award in the 2015 World Cup final. Since then, however, the Australian all-rounder's career has been on a downward curve. Having first lost his place in the Australian squad, then the Cricket Australia (CA) central retainer, the 27-year-old,Faulkner, remained unsold in the Indian Premier Leauge (IPL) player auction as well.

However, the spirited all-rounder attributed his inconsistent performances to a knee injury that had troubled him for a long time. “I have had a knee injury that I picked up before the World Cup and then I went on with it through the World Cup. And then after that, I struggled with a bit of rhythm and a bit of confidence with my body, and have had some time off for the last few months to get myself all right,” Faulkner told Sportstar.

“My next commitment to playing is with Lancashire, in the T20 format, in July 2018. I have got a couple of years with them. Yeah, a bit of freshening up. Body is feeling good. My knee is as good as it has ever been. I am reinvigorated and ready to go back again.”

Faulkner stressed that he was up for going through the grind, all over again, to get back to his best. “I wasn't getting any break at all. It takes a toll on your body. It might be a blessing in disguise that I have had this time, just to get everything all right and to play the game, and enjoy, and have good performances up,” he said.

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'Kaul, Mustafizur impressive'

Faulkner, one of the best exponents of the slower ball, at his prime, is keeping a close watch on the IPL proceedings. And he has been highly impressed by two pacers – Sunrisers Hyderabad's (SRH) Siddharth Kaul and Mumbai Indians' (MI) Mustafizur Rahman – as far as pace variations are concerned.

“I have actually liked the knuckle ball from Kaul. He uses it effectively. He has got some pace as well. Uses the short ball well. He has definitely grabbed my attention. Obviously, Mustafizur has got a very good slower ball. He is still finding his feet, but he is a class player. They are probably the top two pacers who have grabbed my attention,” he said.

Over the last decade, adding to the conventional slower ball, pace bowlers have added the back-of-the-hand slower one, the slow bouncer and the knuckle ball. Faulkner is confident that the pacers will continue to improvise.

“I am not too sure how many more variations will come in the future. Bowlers will try, no doubt, because the batsmen have access to areas of the ground like never before. Batsmen are batting like 360. So, it's very hard to tick and fool them, especially with the power of the batsmen towards the back-end,” he said.

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