Not finished yet: Faulkner eyes one-day return
Allrounder hopeful of playing white-ball cricket for both Tasmania and Hobart Hurricanes this season, despite losing his state contract
3 June 2020, 06:17 PM AEST
World Cup winner James Faulkner has reaffirmed his commitment to Tasmanian state cricket, insisting he'll be pushing for selection in the one-day competition this summer despite not being contracted by the Tigers.
The omission of the 94-time Australian representative from Tasmania's contract list for the 2020-21 season has raised some eyebrows, but the 30-year-old insists he still has a role to play for the Tigers, even if his main priority now is the Hobart Hurricanes in the KFC BBL.
The allrounder has been crippled by chronic knee problems in recent seasons, which has seen him play just one first-class game in the past three years.
He’s already conceded that his physical limitations mean his days playing red-ball cricket, or even returning to the international stage, may well be behind him.
But much like T20 dynamo Chris Lynn has in recent seasons, Faulkner is hopeful of playing 50-over state cricket this summer despite not holding a contract.
"I'm still available to play, I'm still training, I'm still on the Zoom calls with the squad and the team chats," Faulkner told cricket.com.au this week.
"Obviously I want to play for as long as I can.
"Throughout last season I was speaking to Griffo (Tasmania's head of high performance Adam Griffith) and Wadey (state captain Matthew Wade) about what I was potentially going to do, what the plan could be, that maybe I don't sign but still play.
"It gives them the option to sign someone else, add a bit more depth to the squad.
"I'm still contracted to the Hurricanes and that's the main priority for Cricket Tas and myself, to be fit and ready to go because the last couple of years I've done pretty well with them.
"And then I will still be available for the one-dayers and play in them if I'm fit and they want to play me, and vice-versa."
Faulkner played all seven games for Tasmania in last summer's Marsh One-Day Cup. But, having last played for Australia in October 2017 – his final first-class fixture came a month later – he concedes his priorities now lie with the shortest format.
"The last couple of years I've had in Hobart with the Hurricanes has been some of the most fun I've had playing cricket," says Faulkner, who is in the final season of a three-year BBL deal he aims to extend.
"My main goal at the moment is to get fit and I will do bits and pieces of pre-season here, while not having a contract gives me more flexibility around working in the hospitality industry around Hobart."
Faulkner is now heavily involved in two establishments in the Hobart's hot spots; the Phat Fish seafood bar in Salamanca Market and the Shipwright's Arms Hotel, where he can often be found behind the bar pouring beers.
At least, he could before COVID-19 struck, which offered a harsh life lesson in the realities of the business world as some 40 staff had to be put on the federal government’s JobKeeper program.
"I did it (man the bar) through all last summer, around playing, I'd make sure I was in from five to seven when the locals are in," Faulkner says.
"It's good to have a different outlet or avenue to get away from the game and get into the real world.
"I hadn't worked a day in my life until we took over the business. It's an iconic old pub in Tassie and we hope to get it going again soon."
Before lockdown, the odd tourist would recognise the barkeep as the cricketer once dubbed 'The Finisher'.
Highly talented with the bat, boasting a deadly bag of slower-ball tricks and renowned for his ice-cool temperament with the game on the line, Faulkner scaled the heights of Australian cricket in the 2010s.
A star of Tasmania's triumphs in the Sheffield Shield in 2011 and 2013, he burst on to the international scene in 2012 in the limited-overs formats.
It culminated in earning a Baggy Green in England on the 2013 Ashes Tour – his only Test appearance – and he was player of the final in Australia's 2015 World Cup triumph at the MCG.
But injuries cruelled his ambitions, ragged cartilage and grinding bones in both knees a legacy of carrying an allrounder's double workload since his debut for Tasmania as an 18-year-old in 2008.
"The knees have been pretty good since I stopped playing four-day cricket," he confesses.
"My knees were just copping it; I wasn't getting through at all. I do miss it obviously, I loved playing Shield cricket for Tasmania.
"But in one-day and 20-over cricket I'm coping fine and I'm enjoying it."