James Faulkner initially feared for his playing future after suffering a knee injury in January, but Australia’s short-form superstar has wowed teammates by leaving no stone unturned in his bid to be fit for Australia’s Twenty20 World Cup campaign.
The up-and-coming bowling allrounder’s contribution to Australia has become more valuable in the past six months as he has grown into his role as the team’s death bowler, while also proving a several stunning match-winning knocks with the bat.
But it hasn’t been his work in the nets that has impressed coaches and players alike since undergoing knee surgery in January.
That praise has been reserved for his dedication to getting back on the park ahead of schedule.
The 23-year-old has been forced to become best mates with the team physiotherapist, David Beakley, and was hooked up to a special ice machine provided by Cricket Australia “six or seven times a day”.
Two days after Faulkner injured his right knee in the final one-day clash against England during the Australian summer, he went under the knife to have some errant cartilage removed.
Two bouts of intense rehab at the Cricket Australia’s high performance training facilities in Brisbane followed, before he boarded the plane to Bangladesh to continue his comeback plans.
The feisty Tasmanian admits he had fears for his future in the game in the days following his surgery.
“Any time you get injured you have doubts in your head and you worry about how long it is going to take and whether it is going to affect your long-term career,” Faulkner said.
“But I’ve been lucky I have been well looked after – especially David Beakley, who has been unbelievable.
“I don’t think there has been a day in my rehab that he hasn’t contacted me to ask how I’m going.
” (The knee) is never going to feel like it was in all seriousness, any time you go under, but it’s pretty close to where it was.”
The culmination of two months of hard work will pay off on Friday when he makes his comeback against the West Indies in a crucial group match that could decide the fate of both team’s progress to the semi-finals.
Captain George Bailey said Faulkner could’ve played against Pakistan in Australia’s opening fixture – but it was deemed an unnecessary risk to place on such a valuable commodity.