'The IPL has improved little aspects of my game'
'I have been used differently this year. I haven't bowled the four overs I used to be bowling and I have also batted later in the game'
James Faulkner talks to Harish Kotian/Rediff.com about his time with Rajasthan Royals, his match-wining performance in the World Cup final against New Zealand and the Australia Test spot he's eyeing.
James Faulkner has emerged as one of the best all-rounders in limited-overs' cricket.
Despite missing the first few matches of the 2015 ICC World Cup with injury, he underlined his utility to the Australian team with a match-winning performance in the final against New Zealand, taking three wickets for 36 runs, which earned him the man-of-the-match award.
He also forms an important cog in Rajasthan Royals' line-up since being retained by the franchise after being signed up in 2013.
This year, the 25-year-old hasn’t performed to expectations in the eighth edition of the Indian Premier League, unable to make an impression with both bat and ball. But the left-armer tells Harish Kotian/Rediff.com, in an exclusive interview, that his role this time is different.
He also revealed how he is looking to press his claim for a place in Australia’s Test squad.
You are into your third year of the IPL with Rajasthan Royals, a franchise renowned for throwing up young stars, both Indian and overseas. Has being part of the Rajasthan Royals dressing room also helped you improve as a cricketer?
I think it has improved little aspects of my game when it comes to playing conditions over here. It purely depends on when you are batting or bowling in the team. So, like I said, different aspects have certainly helped me.
This season things have not gone well for you personally in the IPL, what with an economy rate on the higher side as compared to the previous years in the tournament. Would you say the slow pitches have hampered your bowling?
I wouldn’t say it has hampered my bowling; I have been used differently this year. I haven’t bowled the four overs I used to be bowling and I have also batted later in the game; so it is a bit different from what I am used to doing.
I am used to bowling my four overs and, probably, coming in a bit early with the bat as well.
Look, I just play the role they want me to play, and if we are winning it’s all good.
You made a big impact with the bat during Australia's last ODI series in India, when you also scored your maiden ODI century. You must be itching to bat higher for Royals and make more sizeable contributions with the bat. Isn't it?
I would be lying if I said no.
You are rated by many as one of the best exponents of the slower ball. How important is it for a bowler to have a slower delivery in his armoury? How many versions of the slower ball do you have?
I think every bowler has a slower ball, whether it is the off-cutter or the back hand leg-cutter; it just depends on how well they can bowl them.
You are seeing a lot more slower balls, or good execution of slower balls, this year; it was also seen throughout the World Cup as well.
Are you disappointed at not making it to Australia's squad for the Ashes? You were included in the side for the last Ashes, in 2013. Does it bother you being considered a limited-overs’ specialist?
I would love to play Test cricket; that was definitely the ambition growing up. I obviously had one Test match and got a taste of it. It is something that I suppose now is in my hands. I haven’t played any red ball cricket, so I haven’t got a chance to press my claim.
It is a good thing and it's a bad thing. It means that I was around the Australian ODI set-up and T20 set-up, but now it is about playing some red ball cricket and going to the UK to play for Lancashire. Then I will get to play some red ball cricket for Tasmania back home in Australia. Hopefully I can get some strong performances on board again and press my claim.
You missed the first three matches of the World Cup because of injury. Were you happy that the team management and selectors showed faith in your abilities, as you were included in Australia's World Cup squad despite having an injury?
Yes, definitely! I said that straight after the game as well.
I was very fortunate that being in that position the selectors backed me to get back into the park. Although it was tough, like any other injury, it was something that you always give your 100 percent and give yourself a chance of getting back into the ground like every player does.
I was very fortunate for the opportunity they gave me to come back later on in the tournament and eased me in as well with my bowling. They used me in certain overs, in certain games, and, in the end, it all worked out and everyone is happy.
It was obviously a risk they took and I am very grateful for that.
It must have been special playing such a crucial role in the final against New Zealand, where you were named the man of the match after taking three wickets?
I haven’t really looked back on that. I suppose the moment that was more special was holding the trophy and winning as a team; that is what you play cricket for.
I play cricket for that… to win with your team mates; that is the most enjoyable and satisfying feeling you can get, to know that 11 people have achieved something pretty special. And the World Cup is the pinnacle.
Definitely, there will be a time I will look back. The individual accolades are fantastic, but the team win was sensational.
You are one of the most sought-after cricketers in the world. After the IPL you head to Lancashire to play county cricket. How do you manage your workload during such busy times?
For me it is about trying to get away from the game, trying to get my mind fresh. Physically, my body is in great condition at the moment, considering how much we played. For me it is about getting away and trying to switch completely off from cricket.