Chennai: The return of James Faulkner has added pep to the Australian squad. Faulkner is no ordinary all-rounder; he took three crucial wickets in a man-of-the-match performance to help Australia defeat New Zealand in the final of the World Cup in 2015.
Faulkner would, however, learn that staying at the top was more difficult than reaching it as he failed to make the cut for the Champions Trophy earlier this year. The tide has turned now with the all-rounder all set to make a comeback in the limited-overs series starting here on Sunday.
The 27-year-old spoke about his time off from the game. “It is always tough if you miss out on selection. I have a good chance now. I had a bit of pre-season which was helpful to get strong and fit. I have been battling with my knee for the last 18 months. It is as good as it has ever been at the moment and I’m happy,” said Faulkner on the eve of a warm-up game against Board President’s XI.
According to the World Cup winner, being out of the team was not the best of times. “After a while your team-mates are like your friends and family. I don’t really want to talk about the past. I have a good opportunity against tough opponents in their backyard,” he said.
Although Faulkner had not “heard” from the selectors on why he was not picked for the Champions Trophy, the all-rounder surmised that he may have been dropped following a dip in pace.
“I just reflected on my game and wanted to get back into the team. I worked as hard as I could. My training definitely changed. I didn’t spend any time running apart from fielding and bowling in the nets. I have also been doing different exercises in the gym. There are certain exercises I can’t do and there is still a lot I can. It is about being disciplined,” he added.
Faulkner said Australia were getting used to the “arduous” conditions here through training sessions. “We had two training sessions to get accustomed to the conditions before the match on Tuesday. I hope to get through with a solid performance. The boys are eager to get out there and play some good cricket. All the boys love playing here; the fans are so passionate about cricket. India and Australia have always enjoyed good rivalry,” he said.
Although the Australian knows the conditions in the sub-continent pretty well thanks to his regular presence in the IPL, he said his team wouldn’t get a specific message from him. “There is a lot of experience in the changing room about playing in the sub-continent. Most of the players have played in the IPL and T20 World Cup here. We will talk about the opposition during the team meeting. India have played a lot of one-day cricket in the recent past. They are in really good knick. The series is going to be a test,” Faulkner added.
Australian allrounder Faulkner is deemed to be the X-factor in the Australian line-up because of the variations he brings with the bat as well as the ball but he downplayed his significance. “I don’t know about the X-factor.
There are players with the X-factor in both teams and that is international cricket for you. I hope to do as well as I can and play my part in these conditions which are different from Australia’s,” he added....