Ashes tourist James Faulkner believes he is capable of holding down the number seven position against England, and he won’t be a shrinking violet if he gets the chance.
Faulkner’s main skill is his slippery brand of left-arm pace, but questions about the form of Shane Watson and matters of team balance mean he could also be called upon to play a significant role with the bat.
Faulkner, the only uncapped player in the Ashes squad, said his batting had improved enough for him to feel comfortable slotting in at seven.
Tasmania was prepared to bat him in the top six for much of the summer before last, and he is coming off a 444-run Sheffield Shield season spent at seven and eight, culminating with 89 in the final against Queensland.
“I would be definitely be comfortable to bat No.7,” said Faulkner, “Wherever you can slot into an Australian team, I think you are pretty happy to play wherever you can. It was a reasonably successful year last year for Tasmania with the bat and hopefully I can make a few more big scores, that’s my aim at the moment.”
As national selector John Inverarity intimated when he described Faulkner, who turns 23 this month, as “a very competitive cricketer who gets things done”, he will bring a forceful attitude that has sometimes been missing from recent Australian teams.
“I like to think I’m a pretty strong competitor on the field and off the field I’m a pretty relaxed sort of character,” Faulkner said from India, where he is playing for the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL.
“When the game is on the line, I’m pretty aggressive. I get on the front foot instead of being dictated to.”
Unlike many talented youngsters who get swept along by the Twenty20 wave, Faulkner has established a solid first-class career, averaging 22.34 with the ball and 29.11 with the bat, while earning a taste of international cricket in the shorter forms.
He is likely to continue his ODI career at the Champions Trophy in June, which precedes the Ashes.
“I’ve always tried to be as consistent as I can across T20, one-day cricket and four-day cricket and not specifically have a focus on any of the three. The IPL has thrown a bit of a spanner in the works for all the countries … but I look at it as an opportunity to progress my cricket on different wickets. You get experience pretty fast,” Faulkner said.
“It doesn’t get any higher than Test cricket. I’ve been thrilled to play a couple of T20s for Australia and a full ODI series against the West Indies, I really enjoyed it and it tested my game out. But it’s a whole new ball game now with Test cricket.”
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