Faulkner makes all round appeal
Dave Tickner feels Australian all-rounder James Faulkner can play a key role in the first Twenty20 International against England.
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Just four days after England completed their 3-0 Ashes victory over Australia, the two countries are back in action for a two-match Twenty20 series.
But the players on show will be vastly different. Of England's T20 squad, only three were involved in the Ashes. And one of those three is Steven Finn, who was dropped after the first Test and didn't feature again. Captain Stuart Broad and Joe Root are the only other Ashes 2013 winners involved.
There are slightly more Ashes 2013 losers involved, although with Australia's revolving-door selection policy, that was surely inevitable. Michael Clarke is here (although George Bailey leads the side), as are Shane Watson, Steve Smith, Dave Warner, Mitchell Starc, James Faulkner and Phil Hughes.
These wholesale changes and new-look squads make things tricky, as does a two-match series that leaves a draw as much the likeliest result.
You can back a drawn series at evens, but given that the first match market is basically a pick 'em you'll lose nothing and may even gain a bit by waiting and backing the loser to go on and win game two to draw the series.
As for the match prices, it's hard to argue. Certainly I wouldn't be confident in identifying a favourite at this stage.
With so much uncertainty, and the unpredictability of T20 cricket, I'm looking to a man who should be feeling good about his game to put in a big performance at a nice price.
That man is James Faulkner. He batted enterprisingly against England on debut in the final Test of the summer and, while he looked completely innocuous with the ball for most of the game, he came to life on the final day when things took on a more limited-overs feel and batsmen looked to get after him.
He ended the match with six wickets and 45 runs scored at better than a run a ball. He's taken 11 wickets in his eight ODIs to date and claimed four scalps in three T20 internationals.
Earlier this summer he took two wickets and hammered a quickfire 54 not out against England in the Champions Trophy.
He's got career stats that place him in the genuine all-rounder class in all formats of the game.
Faulkner looks overpriced in both the top Aussie bat (33/1) and top Aussie bowler (7/2) markets, but the one I like is the 20/1 offered by Ladbrokes and bet365 for the Tasmanian to be named man of the match.
In a short game, an explosive cricketer like Faulkner should catch the eye and could do enough with bat or ball - or more likely a combination of the two - to land the MOTM honours.