Faulkner fit to face Afghanistan


Australia all-rounder James Faulkner said Monday he was fit and ready to make his 2015 World Cup debut against Afghanistan at Perth’s WACA ground on Wednesday.

A side strain has reduced the hard-hitting 24-year-old, also a lively seamer, to the role of a spectator at the tournament so far.

But Faulkner, who injured himself in Australia’s 112-run tri-series final win over England in Perth last month — a match where he smashed a 24-ball 50 not out featuring four fours and as many sixes — bowled several overs in the WACA nets on Monday and, provided there are no ill-effects, he should be available to face Afghanistan.

“If I get through today I am available for selection,” Faulkner told the Cricket Australia website prior to Monday’s training session.

“I bowled a couple of overs (last week and was) pretty close, the difference is the intensity of an ODI (one-day international).

“I will have a solid hit out today and hopefully I recover well and be out here (at the WACA) on Wednesday afternoon.”

He added: “I think I was lucky being a left arm bowler and a right arm batsman, it wasn’t the same side (bearing the strain) when I was batting.”

Faulkner’s recovery is timely for Australia given fast bowler Pat Cummins is set to miss Wednesday’s match after he suffered a side strain during the thrilling one-wicket Pool A defeat by New Zealand in Auckland last weekend.

Fellow paceman Josh Hazlewood looks in line to take Cummins’s place.

But with Shane Watson again under pressure after giving his wicket away against New Zealand and Glenn Maxwell not making much of an impression at Eden Park, Faulkner could replace one of his fellow all-rounders.

“I’m not too sure what they want to go in with, that’s purely up to the selectors,” Faulkner said. “All I can control is about getting back out on the park and giving myself a chance of playing again.

“The rest isn’t my job and it’s not for me to worry about. That’s their decision at the end of the day.”

Australia will look to return to winning ways with a full haul of points against Afghanistan having managed just three from their first three matches after a 111-run win over England was followed by a washout against Bangladesh and last weekend’s loss to New Zealand.