‘IPL will not be the same without Australians’

Faulkner with Royals team-mate Steve Smith. "His technique is pure and he is playing for Australia in all formats," Faulkner says about his fellow Australian international.-VIJAY SONEJI

“Batsmen are getting better and better. They can hit everything; pick every variation of the bowlers, including yorkers and bouncers. They have adapted really well and it’s a challenge for the bowlers. The crowd enjoys all this big hitting,” Australian James Faulkner talks about T20 cricket with G. Viswanath.

James Faulkner was one of the key performers for Australia in the recently concluded ICC World Cup. The left-handed medium pacer was in fine form in the final against New Zealand, too, picking up the wickets of Ross Taylor, Grant Elliot and Corey Anderson. He, deservedly, was adjudged the Man of the Final. Faulkner, now part of IPL side Rajasthan Royals’ foreign contingent, sat with Sporstar to talk about T20 cricket.

Question: Why do you like T20?

Answer: It’s an exciting format. It usually draws big crowds, which gives it a buzzing atmosphere. It’s a very short format and gets over in three hours. So, naturally, people are drawn to it.

What is your opinion about the IPL?

It’s fantastic! All the games have fantastic intensity and the players need to enjoy it. The IPL opens up a lot of opportunities. The next T20 World Cup is just round the corner.

Do you think T20 cricket has made batsmen fearless? They seem to be always playing innovative strokes…

Definitely! That’s one of the great things to see. I think every single year batsmen are getting better and better. They can hit everything; pick every variation of the bowlers, including yorkers and bouncers. They have adapted really well and it’s a challenge for the bowlers. The crowd enjoys all this big hitting.

How important are the fundamentals for a cricketer to succeed across formats?

You can play all formats if you have good technique. Look at Steve Smith. His technique is pure and he is playing for Australia in all formats.

Money is a driving factor for most professionals. Is it the same for cricketers?

Put money aside. For a cricketer, it’s more about where you want to finally reach — T20, one-day cricket or Test matches. I think, for most players it’s more important to play Test cricket.

What are the adjustments you have made to adapt to T20 cricket?

In batting, it’s about changing gears — whether to hit one down the ground, take a single to bring the other batsmen on strike, or try to hit a four or six. It’s a difficult challenge for the batsman to decide. In bowling, too, you go through different stages. It all depends upon whether you are bowling well or not, as also is the case with batting.

The standard of fielding in T20 cricket has been generally good…

Fielding is a massive part of the game now. You are fielding for half of the game, so you need to be good at it. Chennai Super Kings is a very good fielding side. They have picked up quite a few players who bowl and field well. Pulling off a near-impossible run out or a diving save to keep a batsman on strike builds up pressure and puts you in a position of advantage. All the teams are always trying to work on these aspects.

Australians have always been a big force in the IPL. Has Cricket Australia tried to be more accommodating towards the IPL?

I’m not sure; you have to ask CA about it. But there is a plan to leave a seven-week window open for the IPL. Australian players have always been involved with the IPL. The IPL will generally be crappy if we were not available. I am sure, at some stage, that (a clash in schedule) could potentially happen with a Test or a One-day series. But I think, they are doing their best to avoid it.

What is the difference between IPL and Big Bash?

It’s purely about the conditions. Playing overseas (in India) is always a challenge. The wickets are slow, with less bounce and the spinners play a huge part here. The overseas players’ restrictions are also different — in Australia you are allowed two overseas players, here you can field four. There are more smaller grounds here, compared to Australia.

Do you think Ricky Ponting will be interested to manage the Australian side in the recent future?

I am not too sure. I think, he is enjoying his coaching stint with the Mumbai Indians. But I can’t see that (coaching Australia) happening very soon. He had a long playing career and he has a young family. You have to ask him where he wants to go.