He may no longer be part of Australia’s international set-up but there was a time when James Faulkner was one of the most feared allrounders in limited-overs. His knack of finishing matches was incredible and that of breaking partnerships, inspiring. Also Read - India to Start Australia Test Series on Dec 3 in Brisbane: Reports
Perhaps that’s why Australia did not name a replacement when Faulkner injured himself with a side strain just before the 2015 World Cup, but instead got him back up and running and the allrounder repaid the faith with a Man-of-the-Match Performance in the final. Also Read - Shane Warne Issues Warning to Cricket Australia, Expresses Concerns Over Spin Bowling Stocks Going Downhill in Down Under
“It was the last scheduled ODI before start of World Cup, playing England at the WACA, and I did my side. I was racing against the clock. They could have easily left me out of the World Cup squad,” Faulkner told cricket.com.au. Also Read - 'As an Opening Batter, It’s so Exciting For Myself': Joe Burns
“But they were very good to me, Boof (head coach Darren Lehmann), the medical staff and selectors said they’d give me every opportunity. The first couple of days, I was just in bed or lying on the couch with the ice machine on 24/7, then it was just rehab, rehab, rehab.
“I spent a lot of time with Alex Kountouris (the team’s physiotherapist) and Michael Clarke, who was coming back from his hamstring injury. At times it felt like Pup and I were in isolation. The boys were all going out to restaurants, having a couple of beers in the long breaks between games, but we were just doing our rehab, trying to get back.”
He fondly remembers the semifinal match against India at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, where MS Dhoni had kept India’s charge alive with a half-century. Chasing 329 to win, India were off to a solid start with Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma adding 76 for the opening wicket but a middle order collapse saw India get reduced to 108/4. Ajinkya Rahane and MS Dhoni added 70 runs for the fifth wicket, but India struggled against the pressure of a steep asking rate.
Faulkner revealed that even though Australia had the upper hand, they did not relax till the time Dhoni was batting and it was only after Glenn Maxwell ran out the former India captain with a direct-hit that Faulkner and the rest of his teammates realised Australia were well on course to their sixth World Cup final.
“We’d had a lot of good battles with India in the past few years so there was a hell of a lot of nerves before that game. We just burst out of the blocks, but you can never relax against India, we knew they’d come hard in the run chase,” the allrounder said.
“Shikhar Dhawan got after me for a few early, I had 29 runs taken off my first two overs. They went really hard and I had to hold my nerve, knowing I was going to have to come back on and bowl another eight overs after that. It’s not rocket science really, you just have to try and limit the damage as much as you can.
“None of us were too confident until Maxi ran out Dhoni. That was the final straw for us. I bowled a bloody full toss for the hat-trick ball. But it was a good position to be in, we knew the game was over pretty much and there was a lot of relief around.”