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)

South Africa tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Jul 24, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Colombo

India tour of England 2014

Jul 27, 2014 (15:30 IST)   at Southampton

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 6, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Galle

India tour of England 2014

Aug 7, 2014 (15:30 IST)   at Manchester

South Africa in Zimbabwe, 2014

Aug 9, 2014 (13:30 IST)   at Harare

More

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 24, 2014  at Bulawayo

Afghanistan won by 100 runs

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 22, 2014  at Bulawayo

Afghanistan won by 2 wkts

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 20, 2014  at Bulawayo

Zimbabwe won by 8 wkts

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 18, 2014  at Bulawayo

Zimbabwe won by 6 wkts

India tour of England 2014

Jul 17, 2014  at London

India won by 95 runs

Photos

India vs England 2014, 3rd Test

Videos

Shaun Udal on India vs England 3rd Test

12 rare things about Garry Sobers

Pankaj Singh and other Test cricketers from Rajasthan

Ravindra Jadeja-James Anderson spat: ICC has to ensure it doesn’t become another Monkeygate

Pankaj Singh rewarded with India cap for years of consistency at domestic level

Mike Griffith: My choice of Mike Gatting as President of MCC was all about timing

Alastair Cook England England vs India England vs India 2014 India India tour of England 2014 India vs England India vs England 2014 South Africa South Africa tour of Sri Lanka 2014 South Africa vs Sri Lanka South Africa vs Sri Lanka 2014 Sri Lanka Sri Lanka vs South Africa Sri Lanka vs South Africa 2014

India vs England 2014, 3rd Test at Southampton: Alastair Cook’s knock sign of great mental strength, believes Nasser Hussain

Mitchell Starc cheers for brother in Commonwealth Games 2014

India vs England 2014 3rd Test at Southampton: Sunil Gavaskar unhappy with Indian slip fielding

Pakistan’s former chief selector Mohammad Ilyas threatens to commit suicide

Watch Free Live Streaming Online: Sri Lanka vs South Africa, 2nd Test, Day 5 at Colombo (SSC)

Michael Holding’s take on Ishant Sharma bowling from Pavilion End — problems with expert opinions

India vs England 2014 3rd Test at Southampton stats highlights: Day 1

India vs England 2014, 3rd Test at Southampton: Gary Ballance fills in the void left by Jonathan Trott

12 rare things about Garry Sobers

Pankaj Singh and other Test cricketers from Rajasthan

Fan of the Day

Fan Cricket

Fan Cricket

11 Posts | 2 Fans

Brazil vs Netherlands, 3rd place Fifa World Cup 2014 match Video Highlights

Condition in Saharanpur improves, curfew relaxed for a few hours

Puducherry Lt Governor extends Ramzan greetings

India vs England 2014 3rd Test at Southampton: Sunil Gavaskar unhappy with Indian slip fielding

Ronaldinho on his way out: Jo

World Hepatitis Day 2014: Lack of blood screening causing Hepatitis C

Wikipedia blocks ‘disruptive’ edits from US Congress

How to find what your Uber driver rated you

Comedy Nights with Kapil: Sunil Grover makes a stellar comeback on Kapil Sharma’s show!

World Hepatitis Day 2014: 6 challenges to hepatitis prevention in India

International Indian Achiever’s Award 2014: Alia Bhatt and Parineeti Chopra dazzle on stage-view pics!

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here