Home > Features > Moments in history >

Shaun Tait: A tale of thunderous pace, inconsistency and injuries

Shaun Tait © Getty Images
Shaun Tait © Getty Images

Shaun Tait, born on February 22, 1983, showcased burgeoning promise early in his career. But over the years has struggled for consistency and has been let down by injuries. Bharath Ramaraj looks back at his career.

When a 19-year old Shaun Tait waltzed through his follow through and with a slingy action hurled the ball at a heart-chilling pace on a spicy Gabba track at Queensland batsmen in 2002-03, it was crystal clear that he had unquenchable desire and self belief to bowl fast. He went onto take three wickets in a short burst in the first innings of the match to raise hopes that he can be a pillar of shining brilliance for Australia, in the years to come.

Alas! A combination of serious injuries and his tendency to bowl wayward stuff saw him drift away from the scene. He still showcased his wares with sparks of brilliance in the shorter forms of the game.

However, a lot more was expected from the pacer when he bulldozed batting line-ups with a threatening gait in Australia’s domestic circuit in both the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons. In fact, those days, Tait bowled with fire and brimstone to send seismic shocks into opposition camps.

By 2004, his meteoric rise to fame and venomous pace caught the eye of Durham County Club and he was signed by them. In his very first game for them against Somerset, he flailed hopelessly on a flat deck. Up against a side that boasted of his future captain Ricky Ponting playing for them, Tait bowled a mere 12 overs and was smashed all over the park. His figures read as 12 overs for 113 runs and he took no wickets in that game. To make it even worse for him, he bowled a slew of no balls and ended up bowling 21 of them.

In 2004-05, he was rewarded with a Cricket Australia (CA) contract. It was also the season when he touched stratospheric heights in Australian domestic cricket by taking 65 wickets at an average of 20.16. By taking as many wickets as he did, he surpassed Clarrie Grimmett’s record for highest number of scalps in a single season in Sheffield Shield. During that time, he also combined with Mitchell Johnson while playing games for Australia A to send shivers down the spine of batsmen.

Tait’s truckload of wickets in the Sheffield Shield helped him to make his debut in Ashes 2005 against England. In what turned out to be a see-saw Ashes series that enthralled the audience, Tait came into the setup largely because of the loss of form to key bowlers. In his first Test match at Trent Bridge, he snared three wickets but was also very expensive. He still would fondly remember his first wicket that he took off Marcus Trescothick. It swung a wee bit in the air and shattered the stumps of the left-handed opening batsman. He did play in the final Test of the series at The Oval, but that game is reminisced by everyone for England winning back the Ashes after 19 long years.

By the time Australia embarked on a trip to the Caribbean to play in the ICC World Cup 2007, Tait was known more as a specialist in the abridged version of the game. With Brett Lee not being included in the squad due to injury, Tait was expected to don the role of the battering ram in the side. He repaid the selectors faith by taking a stackful of wickets in the tournament. He took 23 wickets at 20.3 in the World Cup.

One of his better spells in that tournament came in the semi-final against South Africa. He took the key wickets of AB de Villiers and Herschelle Gibbs, before cleaning up the tail in quick time. Playing with what seemed like jangling nerves, the South African batsmen threw away some of their wickets on a platter, but credit has to go to Tait for denting South Africa’s top-order. Those deliveries were cannoning across a flat deck at the speed of red-lightning.

Shaun Tait was one of the fastest bowlers in the world and at could easily clock speeds of above 150 kmph on a regular basis © Getty Images
Shaun Tait was one of the fastest bowlers in the world and at could easily clock speeds of above 150 kmph on a regular basis © Getty Images

Unfortunately, Tait never became the primal force of Australia’s pace attack. He was selected to play in the WACA Test against India in 2007-08. On a track that had nice carry for quick bowlers to make their presence felt, Tait flopped miserably. He didn’t even bowl quick in that game. Later, he revealed that he was suffering from “mental and physical exhaustion” and took an indefinite break from the game.

Since his return from that break, he has largely played the shorter forms of the game. He even quit playing First-Class cricket for South Australia in the 2008-09 season. With another World Cup around the corner in 2011, Tait was still expected to soar to great heights. However, he found life difficult on sub-continental wickets and struggled to make an impact. The last time he played for Australia was in the quarter-final of the World Cup game against India at Ahmedabad.

Nowadays, Tait has become a Twenty20 specialist. From Rajasthan Royals to Melbourne Renegades to Adelaide Strikers to Essex to Glamorgan to Mid West Rhinos, he has represented a host of teams. Franchises have been tempted to buy him, largely because of his ability to bowl thunderbolts. He even recently played in the Big Bash League (BBL) for Adelaide Strikers.

Tait, over the years has come in for heavy criticism from former cricketers for quitting Test cricket and travelling around the world to play in various T20 leagues. But it has to be said that to bowl fast isn’t an easy job and a quick bowler is bound to get injured on many occasions. It has led to Tait taking the route of plying his trade in T20s.

The mouth watering prospect of watching him bowl with current Australian spearhead Johnson has rarely happened. But in his brief career for Australia, Tait had his moments in the sun and on many occasions, his scorching pace left batsmen quivering for cover. In many ways, one can describe him as a quick bowler who was sometimes the darling of the cricketing fraternity and sometimes the villain.

(Bharath Ramaraj, an MBA in marketing, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket. He has played at school and college-level, and now channelises his passion for the game by writing about it)

Bangladesh Tour of West Indies, 2014

Sep 13, 2014 (19:30 IST)   at Gros Islet, St Lucia

World T20 League 2014

Sep 16, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Raipur

World T20 League 2014

Sep 16, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Raipur

World T20 League 2014

Sep 17, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Hyderabad

World T20 League 2014

Sep 18, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Mohali

More

World T20 League 2014

Sep 14, 2014  at Raipur

Mumbai Indians won by 9 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 14, 2014  at Raipur

Northern Knights won by 72 runs

World T20 League 2014

Sep 13, 2014  at Raipur

Lahore Lions won by 6 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 13, 2014  at Raipur

Northern Knights won by 7 wkts

Scotland tour of Ireland, 2014

Sep 12, 2014  at Dublin

Scotland won by 8 wkts

Photos

India tour of England 2014: Highlights

Videos

Ryan Sidebottom credits the whole Yorkshire team

Lendl Simmons, Michael Hussey script comfortable win for Mumbai Indians over Southern Express in CLT20 2014 qualfiers

Northern Knights demolish hapless Lahore Lions by 73 runs in CLT20 qualifiers

West Indies vs Bangladesh, Live Cricket Score 2nd Test Day 2: Bangladesh reeling at 104/7 at Stumps

CLT20: A statistical overview

Rahul Dravid’s dismissal had infuriated Dilip Sardesai on his deathbed

Bangladesh Bangladesh vs West Indies 2014 Champions League T20 2014 CLT20 CLT20 2014 Lahore Lions vs Mumbai Indians Lahore vs MI MI vs Lahore Mumbai Indians Mumbai Indians vs Lahore Lions Mumbai Indians vs Southern Express Southern Express Southern Express vs Mumbai Indians West Indies West Indies vs Bangladesh 2014

Bangladesh left gasping at 104/7 at stumps on Day 2 of 2nd Test after Kemar Roach fifer ensures West Indies advantage

CLT20: Kieron Pollard expresses need to improve fielding

Mohammad Aamer ties the knot

Bangladesh 25/1 against West Indies at Tea on Day 2 of 2nd Test

Lahore Lions skipper Mohammad Hafeez blames bowlers for loss

PCB vows to put in own system to catch illegal actions at an early stage

Cape Cobras in CLT20 2014 Preview: South African unit high on quality

Northern Knights vs Lahore Lions in CLT20 qualifiers: Highlights

Men who have played over a quarter of the Tests for their teams

CLT20: A statistical overview

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

635 Posts | 7 Fans

Yuvraj Singh in Anupam Kher show

Champions League T20 (CLT20) 2014: Mumbai Indians register 9-wicket win against Southern Express

Was Deepika Padukone’s cleavage video a compliment?

Friends can influence your young child’s sexual habits

Everything you should know about Android One

Manchester United vs QPR: Man United registers first win under Louis van Gaal in Barclays Premier League 2014-15

Rahul Khanna and Monica Dogra Starrer Fireflies to release on 31st October

Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon India to vie for Android One market

Latest Ebola News: Doctor dies at Sierra Leone due to delayed treatment

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here