James Faulkner is undoubtedly the number one all-rounder in the country at the moment. His incredible rise has culminated with his selection in the touring squad for this year’s Ashes series.
While he is destined for greatness, it was his humble beginnings in the Apple Isle that made him the player he is.
After debuting as an 18 year old, it took Faulkner a couple of years to find his bearings. It only took two seasons to announce himself with 36 wickets and 300 runs in the Bupa Sheffield Shield.
His first-class record has been nothing short of exemplary. Faulkner has tallied 1,286 runs at almost 30, and has snared 131 wickets at 22.63.
Despite boasting formidable records like 5/5 against South Australia, Faulkner’s greatest moment came in last year’s final against the Queensland Bulls.
Needing a draw for victory, Faulkner chewed up almost 20 overs for his 46 in the first innings. Three key wickets gave the Tigers a big lead, before they slumped to be 5/15 in reply. Faulkner then played the most important knock of his life, adding 89 off 207 deliveries to effectively kill off the contest. It might not have been the most fluent innings, but it was the most important.
Aside from winning man of the match in the final, Faulkner has also been the recipient of the Ricky Ponting medal the past three seasons.
Faulkner is well on the way to becoming Australia’s next golden child. His batting down the order is as good as you’ll get from a number eight, while his bowling is designed to take wickets.
After a couple of quiet performances in the T20 side, Faulkner made himself known to the world with three wickets against the West Indies in 2013.
Faulkner made his ODI debut this year, and has played eight games since. His 11 wickets were highlighted by a four wicket haul in Canberra, while he has produced a number of fighting knocks with the bat, including an unbeaten 54 in the ICC Champions Trophy.
His lusty hitting at the end of an innings has been a hallmark of his career with both the Tasmanian Tigers and the Melbourne Stars. But what sets him apart is his bowling.
Faulkner can land his stock delivery like any other bowler. But it is his back of the hand slower ball that destroys opponents. His 5/15 in the IPL shows that even the best have no idea how to play him.
A promising start to his Ashes tour has seen him firm as a possible bolter for the ten Test epic.