ICC Champions Trophy, only second in importance to the Cricket World Cup, is a few weeks away from a kickoff for an eighth time ever since its inception in 1998. Going into the 2017 edition of Champions Trophy, India and Australia will look to win a record third Champions Trophy but eventually, there will be just one winner; it will be interesting to watch if the World No. 3 and 2 teams can outclass the other participants and lock horns in a breathtaking decider grand finale. Both the teams have announced their respective squads for the tournament; while there was no shocker in the 15-man Indian crew, Australia indeed blew out a few surprises in the squad they picked. The inclusion of Moises Henriques ahead of James Faulkner was certainly one of those.
Faulkner’s omission from the Champions Trophy has raised many eyebrows and why not? He was the Player of the Match in Australia’s ICC Cricket World Cup final against New Zealand in Melbourne in 2015. More than being a bowling all-rounder, Faulkner has established his image as a finisher for Australia in limited-overs cricket. The second ODI against England at Gabba in 2014 is the finest testimony to Faulkner’s finishing skills. Australia slipped 244 for 9 while chasing 301 when Faulkner had entered the crease. His unbelievable knock of 69 off 47 from No. 9 led Australia to one of the greatest ODI victories and that also had recorded Australia’s highest run-chase at Brisbane.
Faulkner, in ICC World T20 2016, became the first Australian bowler to register a five-wicket haul in a World T20. He achieved the feat against Pakistan with figures of 5 for 27. Pakistan, having forever dominated the Aussies in the shortest format, broke against the all-rounder and crashed out of the World T20. Faulkner, who made his First-Class debut for Tasmania, has delivered to them on several occasions. His performance inspired Tasmania’s best results in recent times between 2010 and 2013. His wicket tallies of 36, 39 and 39 helped the Tigers to win Sheffield Shield in 2010-11, end as runners’ up in the subsequent season before the triumphed the tournament in 2012-13.
Until Faulkner fabricated results in the domestic arena, he was Australia’s first choice all-rounder. This drop down in his show in Sheffield Shield has drastically hit his international career. Just when Faulkner’s downfall happened in the First-Class, Henriques grabbed attention with a series of excellent performances. He has the numbers to back it. While Faulkner picked up 10 wickets and scored 277 runs at 30.77 in six matches, Henriques’ numbers put him ahead of the former during CA’s selection for the Champions Trophy. The 30-year-old was the second highest run-scorer for New South Wales and overall he stood fifth on the table of most runs in the 2016-17 season of the Sheffield Shield with 775 runs in nine matches. He even had three wickets to his name.
He first earned an acclaim in the 2006 Under-19 Cricket World Cup when he led the Australian side. He was the stand-out player of the tournament, scoring 150 runs at 37.50 and finished as the World Cup’s leading wicket-taker, claiming 16 wickets at 10.52 in 5 matches. His all-round show guided Australia till the semi-final where they lost to eventual champions, Pakistan.
Even if his bowling figures did not justify his potential in the Sheffield Shield, he has proved his worth as a bowler in the past. Henriques still holds the record for most wickets in Under-19 Cricket World Cup (U-19 CWC). He is the joint leading wicket-taker along with Greg Thompson in the history of U-19 CWC with 27 scalps.
Apart from domestic contribution, Henriques’ performance in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) has also helped him gain a place in the Champions Trophy’s squad. , Henriques’ all-round consistent performances have ensured a spot for him in the Sunrisers Hyderabad’s side. Having appeared in 11 games, he has scored 273 runs. On the other hand, Faulkner being a more T20 specialist has managed only 32 runs and four wickets in six games.
“Moises finished off the domestic season very well and has had a great start in the Indian Premier League. We believe Moises’ batting has improved significantly in the past six months and he will provide us with a strong option should he be selected,” Cricket Australia selector Trevor Hohns defended their decision to rope in Henriques.
Australia’s intention to go aggressive, as always, is quite clear as they are all set to unleash the fierce fast bowling quartet, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and James Pattinson at the Champions Trophy. When there are already enough options of pacers in the squad, hence, a batting all-rounder, Henriques seemed a better option over a bowling all-rounder Faulkner. However, there is no doubt that Faulkner just got “unlucky!”