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Revamped, rebuilt 'Finisher' raring to go

12 September 2017

Martin Smith, Chennai


Martin Smith, Chennai


Faulkner reflects on axing and looks ahead to India ODIs with fresh eyes after knee rehab

James Faulkner says losing his spot in Australia's ODI side has given him a chance to revamp his training regimen and rebuild a troublesome knee that had him "battling" for full fitness for more than a year.

Faulkner received a double blow in late April when it was announced he had been dropped from both Australia's squad for the ICC Champions Trophy and then, three days later, Cricket Australia's central contract list as well.

While some hysterical commentary at the time suggested the allrounder's international career was all but over, Faulkner managed to find a silver lining in the clouds that had suddenly gathered over his future.

Facing a rare four-month gap in his schedule following the end of the Indian Premier League in May, Faulkner spent the chilly Tasmanian winter strengthening his troublesome right knee – his front leg when bowling – which had flared up during the summer and forced him to miss some cricket.

Back to both full fitness and Australia's one-day squad for their tour of India, the allrounder is hopeful his return to national colours will be a permanent one.

Australia put through their paces in Chennai

"I had bit of pre-season which has been nice, actually," Faulkner said in Chennai on Monday. "(I had a) bit of time in my own bed, and to get strong and fit again.

"I have been battling – to be honest – for probably the last 18 months, so it's been nice to be home in Tassie with my teammates there and hit the gym hard - just physically with my knee and the state that's been in. But it's as good as it's been at the moment, so I'm pretty happy.

"My training definitely changed. I've spent a lot of time on the bike, I haven't spent any time running other than fielding and net sessions when I'm bowling. I've been doing different exercises in the gym when it comes to strength; there are exercises I can't do but there's a lot that I still can.

"It's about being disciplined with them and training and working hard. And also reflecting on aspects you need work on as a player, because everyone has to get better."

While detailed feedback from selectors regarding his sudden drop down the pecking order was not forthcoming, Faulkner looked inwards for answers on how to win back his spot in the ODI side, which he'd been a key part of for the better part of four years.

The Aussies opted for the experience in English conditions of John Hastings for their ultimately winless Champions Trophy campaign, while Faulkner's case for inclusion wasn't helped by the rare instance of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and James Pattinson all being fit and available at the same time.

Unsurprisingly, the axing hurt.

"It was pretty tough," he said. "I think if you ask any player when you get left out, it's not great fun. So you have to rely on your friends and family and your teammates as well.

"I didn't get too much feedback to be honest. It was about ... they said the pace has dropped down a little bit, maybe. But I bowl a lot of variations, so it's a tough one. I didn't have too much (feedback) to be honest.

"I just reflected myself and wanted to get back in the team. I put that aside and worked as hard as I could.

"At the end of the day it is up to you to bounce back and I am excited to be back in the group.

"I don't really want to talk about the past, it's about this series coming up and a good opportunity to play against very good opposition in their own country."

And on this tour, unlike the Champions Trophy, the conditions are in Faulkner's favour.

An experienced campaigner in India, where he's played seven seasons for four different teams in the Indian Premier League, Faulkner's moniker 'The Finisher' was first put forward after a breakout ODI series here in 2013. The right-hander hammered 230 runs from four innings on that tour, including a record-breaking century from just 57 balls in Bengaluru, before he famously led Australia to victory in a seemingly unwinnable match against England at The Gabba three months later.

But it's his clever variations in length and pace with the ball that are expected to have the biggest impact in the coming weeks, albeit on the flat Indian pitches that skipper Steve Smith forecast on Sunday.

"(My strength) is the variation and at the death as well with both the bat and ball," Faulkner said.

"I want to do as well as I can and play my part in these conditions, which are obviously different from back in Australia."

Faulkner and the Australians will take on a Board President's XI at Chepauk Stadium in Chennai on Tuesday, their only warm-up match of the tour, before the series opener against India at the same venue on Sunday.

Australia's Qantas Tour of India

Australia ODI squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Ashton Agar, Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Patrick Cummins, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa.

Australia T20 squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Jason Behrendorff, Dan Christian, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Patrick Cummins, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Glenn Maxwell, Tim Paine, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa.

India squad (first three ODIs): Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma (vc), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami.

ODI Fixtures

September 17: MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai

September 21: Eden Gardens, Kolkata

September 24: Holkar Cricket Stadium, Indore

September 28: M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru

October 1: VCA Stadium, Nagpur

T20 Fixtures

October 1: JSCA International Stadium, Ranchi

October 10: Barsapara Stadium, Guwahati

October 13: Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad

About the Writer

Martin Smith is a writer for He previously wrote for Yahoo!7 Sport and Fox Sports.