Australian James Faulkner has gone down in Royals folklore as the unlucky bowler who got hit for six after delivering the last ball of the ‘T20 Game of the Century’ against the Mumbai Indians in 2014. That moment saw them eliminated from the tournament, but it should never be forgotten that without his amazing performances throughout that campaign, the Royals would never have got as close to making the playoffs as they did.
A true all-rounder, combining left-arm medium pace with right-hand batsmanship, Faulkner consistently picked up key wickets and chipped in with handy runs down the order. Surprisingly, James started out as a left-arm chinaman bowler, but soon decided he preferred a more aggressive bowling style! His effectiveness in different disciplines led to the Royals paying $400,000 for him in the 2013 Auction – and it proved to be money well spent.
Top bowling performances in IPL 2013 against the likes of Pune, Mumbai and Punjab and excellent knocks against RCB and Hyderabad soon secured a place for ‘Faulks’ in the Royals fans’ hearts. His two ‘Michelles’ (five fors) against Hyderabad will always be remembered with great affection, as will his Man of the Match award for picking 3 wickets for 11 runs against KKR in 2014 – a wonderful present on his birthday! However, perhaps his most remarkable performance was his ‘never say die’ partnership with fellow Aussie Steve Smith in the 2014 match against RCB. Facing an ‘ask’ of 83 runs from 6 overs, the duo went berserk. The ensuing overs went for 14, 4, 21, 23 and 21 – and somehow the Royals got home with seven balls to spare! One of the most entertaining players in the most entertaining team in the IPL had thrilled the fans yet again!