Q20: James Faulkner
You’ve enjoyed a whirlwind start to life as an international cricketer, did you ever imagine it would be like this?
I have been lucky enough to experience all different aspects of playing professional cricket. It’s been good. Obviously it’s different to most other jobs as well. I do enjoy it. I know it’s not going to last forever.
What was going through your head during the World Cup final 3-15 spell?
I didn’t know it was 3-15. To be honest, I haven’t really had much time to reflect on it. I missed a bit of the celebrations in Australia because I went off to the IPL soon after. But I’m sure when I get home there’ll still be a bit of hype around it. I’ll probably reflect on it more when I finish cricket. Then I can probably sit back and have a glass of wine or beer with the players I played with and think how special it was because it was an extraordinary occasion.
What was it like when you saw Steve Smith hit the winning runs?
Pup [Michael Clarke] got out and I was thinking should I run and put my pads on. But we had another batter, so I thought I’ve got a couple of minutes if needed. It was all a bit of a blur, then all of sudden we were on the ground celebrating. The most special part of the whole thing was not just getting handed the World Cup but the lap after the game. There were probably 65-70 thousand people still in the ground. If I were going to watch any part of the game again, it would definitely be the presentation.
What did you do the day after winning the World Cup?
The next day we had a function at Federation Square in the middle of Melbourne that a lot of fans attended, and then we all went to a venue and had lunch and drinks. We split up the next day and I think that’s just the way the game is now, with so much travel and guys playing for so many different teams. But in the 48 hours available we did take full advantage of celebrating.
You’ve suffered from an injury leading up to the World Cup, were you ever concerned you might not be fit in time?
The first week was pretty bad. There wasn’t much sleep; there was a lot of icing, as I wanted to play so badly. I think you’d find most players would do the exact same thing considering what we had coming. The one thing I do remember was Boof [Darren Lehmann] saying to me ‘we’ll give you as long as you need to come back’. That gave me a lot of confidence. It worked out in the end.
Dubbed ‘The Finisher’, what do you think of the title?
Ha, I’ve got a few different nicknames. Look, I’m not too fussed what they want to call me. It’s a bit of friendly banter and they’re not swearing at me or calling me bad names so let them have their fun. It’s all in good spirit.
You’ve consistently shown that you can be counted on in crucial matches, how has playing in important State games at a young age helped?
I suppose when I first started playing domestic cricket I was quite young and raw. I’d played some finals and did ok, but I didn’t have that added pressure of having done it before. I think it is different now. After you’ve done it once or twice people naturally expect you do it. But having said that, I’ve been in those positions a hell of a lot when I was younger and I did stuff it up. They just weren’t in front of hundreds of thousands of millions of people.
You captained Australia A recently, do you like the tactical side of the game?
I did enjoy that. It’s something that I did through junior cricket. It’s definitely something that if teams want me to do it, I’ll take it up. I think as an all-rounder you’re always in the game so it depends how you handle it. It’s a hard gig but it’s only as difficult as you make it.
Is it something you want to do more of in the future?
It’s something that I’m interested in, but it’s not something you go up to someone and say I want to be captain. But you think about it. It’s an honour and a privilege to captain a cricket team, no matter what level it is.
Considering you came to recognition for a fantastic couple of years in Sheffield Shield cricket, do you think it’s unfair you haven’t had more Test opportunities?
You can look at it two different ways. I was carrying drinks a lot for Australia, but having said that I had the opportunity to train in the nets with Australia’s best. Not only training, but also talking to the players. So, yeah, I have been frustrated. But I have had the chance to play a hell of a lot of one-day cricket. I don’t regret anything. I’m still young.
You have played in the big T20 leagues, what do you make of the T20 Blast so far?
It’s obviously completely different conditions to what I’m used to and where I’ve come from [playing in the IPL]. Twenty20 is exciting no matter where it is played. Competing against your rivals on big nights like Lancashire against Yorkshire is good fun.
How useful has it been playing in T20 leagues overseas?
I think T20 in general for younger players gives you more opportunities in other formats. I think a lot of players tend to start in limited-overs cricket and a lot more now start before playing Shield or Championship cricket. I think it is good for the game if you’ve got players involved at a younger age.
In the final overs of an ODI, what are you looking to bowl?
It depends on the conditions: whether it is a slow or quick wicket, what side of the ground you’re playing, the wind, all these aspects come in to play. There are so many different variables these days and I think it is getting harder. The batters are so skilled now it really is a spectacle for the fans.
As an allrounder, do you think the shorter-formats favour batting more than bowling?
I think when you are not going well one way or the other you think that. But don’t get me wrong, when I am getting slapped around the park I do try to take revenge from time to time, as I know what it feels like.
What’s it like to work under Darren Lehmann?
Boof’s knowledge of the game is outstanding. That’s purely come from his ability as a player. Talking cricket with him, you learn a hell of a lot, and when I talked about carrying the drinks there were a lot of conversations [with Lehmann] and all the boys picked his brains. The more you try to put in your own game, the more it made sense. There are certain things, like how to play spin, that came from him. I know all the boys love him around the group. He gets everyone involved and he’s been a great coach.
What is the Australian way?
I think the big thing is enjoyment. You’ve got to enjoy the game, there are a lot of great things that come with playing for your country and there are also some things that aren’t so great at times. We are all very lucky to be doing what we’re doing so you have to take the good with the bad.
As a guy from Tasmania, you’re used to close team culture, how has that been achieved in the international team?
I think that’s partly down to having a good mixture of good senior and younger players. A lot of younger players have had opportunities in one-day cricket, which has been fantastic, and the older players are very giving when it comes to their time and helping you. It’s good to talk about the game and other things, because if you’re not, you are not going to learn.
Why are Australia such a force at both Test and limited-overs cricket?
I suppose it’s about trying to create the right balance. Any time the Ashes is around the focus is purely on that, likewise with one-day formats. We switch on or off.
How do you see the Ashes going?
There are going to be a couple of draws, so I think 2-1 to Australia, just. I reckon the form England are starting to show – with Alastair Cook back in some form and Ben Stokes getting runs last month and in a confident mood – it’ll be a good series.
You’re the second Australian overseas for Lancashire this season, have they worn out all their Ashes sledging?
There’s always going to be hype around the Ashes and any time you’ve got an Aussie playing over here there’s going to be a bit of banter. But it’s all in good spirit and we all love playing the game of cricket at the end of the day.
This article originally appeared in The Cricketer magazine