Faulkner stars in national spotlight

James Faulkner hit a sparkling 94 while captaining Australia A against India A.
James Faulkner hit a sparkling 94 while captaining Australia A against India A.

LAUNCESTON all-rounder James Faulkner was unperturbed about falling one shot shy of his maiden first-class century as he continued his uncanny knack of saving his most eye-catching performances for the national spotlight.

In his first spell as his country's captain, the 24-year-old amassed 94 for Australia A against India A in Brisbane, eventually getting caught by Naman Ojha attempting the same shot that had previously yielded four sixes in one Amit Mishra over.

It was the first time Faulkner had reached the 90s in first-class cricket and surpassed his previous highest score of 89 in his man-of-the-match contribution to the 2013 Sheffield Shield final.

``Every time you go in to bat you try and score as many runs as you can and it would be nice personally to get a hundred,'' said Faulkner, whose knock came off 148 balls, featured 10 fours and included lengthy periods of low-scoring patience.

``Other times I've got into the 80s and 90s I've tended to go into my shell and this time I thought I might as well go after it and if it was there try and hit it over the fence but that's cricket and I suppose going forward I'll learn from it and move on.

``It was nice to score some runs but more importantly we're in a decent position and need to capitalise on it.''

Asked how he was finding the captaincy, the three-time  Ricky Ponting medallist, whose burgeoning Twenty20 credentials have seen him represent Kings XI Punjab, Pune Warriors, Rajasthan Royals and Melbourne Stars, said he had learned plenty from national captain Michael Clarke and coach Darren ``Boof'' Lehmann.

``It's not something I've done a lot at this level. I did a lot through juniors but I really enjoyed it and the boys are very supportive,'' Faulkner said.

``I definitely look at the way Michael captains and what Boof has to say as well. They've got a lot of knowledge and experience in the game of cricket so why not learn off them?''

After Faulkner won the toss and chose to bat at Allan Border Field, fellow Tassie Tiger Alex Doolan went for 18 before some hefty middle-order contributions took the team total to 423. In reply, India A is 3-165 at stumps on day 2. The first match in the series was drawn.

Under the heading ``Ugly Faulkner a beautiful thing'', Cricket Australia's website described the captain's stop-start knock as ``a far cry from the spectacular innings he produced just seven kilometres away back in January to guide Australia to the unlikeliest of victories against England.


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