Exclusive: It's getting harder and harder for the bowlers, says James Faulkner
For James Faulkner, the last three years have been all about trying to rediscover his lost touch. 'Player of the Match' in the 2015 World Cup finals, Faulkner has been trying to claw his way out of a crevasse, one made out of irregular form and dipping confidence, all compounded by a debilitating knee injury.
At 28, he isn't entirely forgotten, but has dropped more than a notch in Australia's pecking order of all-rounders, especially with the World Cup in sight. The balance that he brings to the side, courtesy his canny medium pace and capable lower-order batting, cannot be discounted in the shorter formats of the game.
Part of the Maratha Arabians that ended fourth in the T10 extravaganza, Faulkner is aiming at doing well in leagues around the world to try and fight his way back into the Australian line-up. He exclusively spoke to Sportskeeda about cricket's shortest format, what changes it warrants out of bowlers, and the shifted balance of the game in favour of batsmen.
Do you see T10 becoming a long-term format in the future?
It's not a long-term format now, but there is no doubt it can be in two to three years' time. You've seen some unbelievable batting and skills on show. It is very engaging for the fans for short periods of time to come along and watch the game.
What changes do you make to your approach while playing limited-overs cricket as compared to the red-ball game?
As a batsman, you need plenty of power; when you hit, you try to hit it over the fence and also try and access different parts of the field.
For bowlers, you continually change the angles up - if you bowl the same ball over and over again, you get hit out of the park. You only have to slightly miss, so you see a lot of angles. From different actions to, maybe a shortened run-up, you see a lot of things in limited-overs.
Wasim Akram was part of the Maratha Arabians set-up. Being a left-arm pacer yourself, what kind of inputs did you take from him?
It is the first time I've been in a franchise with Wasim Akram and I've seen why everyone says how good he is. I'm trying not to pester him too much, but he is helping me out with a couple of things that I'm trying at the moment. I'm hoping to take them back home to Australia for the summer ahead.
Akram's calibre was tremendous as a player - That's the best thing about franchise cricket - you get to play with different coaches: some might work for you some might not.
Do you see cricket becoming more and more of a batsman's game?
It is at the moment, and you can see it. Batsmen can score all around the wicket, and it is getting harder and harder for the bowlers. With high run-rates, it is easy for people to say 'go for a certain amount' but bowlers can even go for 30 off an over here (in T10s) and quite regularly.
It is different ways of looking at the situation - you have to break down the power play, for instance. There are different run-rates in mind, and you want to try and go under them.
The essential thing is to take wickets throughout, so that it halts the batting team.
How would you bowl to someone as versatile as an AB de Villiers or a Virat Kohli in T10 cricket?
Every batsman can hit it miles at the moment - no matter how hard you hit it, you just need to go over the ropes. You just have to make sure you're backing your skills and preparation; mentally you have to switch yourself on and not worry too much about the consequences.
For bowling all-rounders like you, who might not be getting as many chances to bat in T10 cricket, is there a conscious effort to concentrate on just bowling?
There is focus on both. The hardest thing is to come in at the end of the innings in 10-overs cricket. Normally, in T20s, you have one or two balls, and in ODIs you can probably look for a couple of overs to sort out the pitch and conditions.
In T10s, playing away from home, in conditions such as these (in the UAE) which you are not used to, the batsmen are finding it really difficult to go from ball one, especially on the wickets here.
That's unless you are in the powerplay with the field up - at least that's a bit relaxing for them as opposed to coming later in the innings.
Do you see leagues like these as a launchpad to return to the Australian squad?
Any tournament, whether it is T20 or ODI or T10 - if you are performing, you are going to throw your name back in contention for selection. So yeah, there's no doubt that if you perform you are in the mix.