“He had the pace of a missile gun. They said, he surely was the chosen one.
Batsmen feared facing up to his pace. But when he bowled, he was all over the place”.
What’s your byline on Shaun Tait as he departs from Cricket?
The fastest Australian bowler who played in the shortest of formats, for the shortest possible time? Or, that he often announced his arrival in a game by bowling the sloppiest no-balls.
For me, it’s the latter. When most fast-bowlers deliver a no-ball, they marginally overstep the line. But, Shaun Tait knew how to get better at this. He mastered the sad art of handing an additional run to his opponents.
He didn’t just overstep the bowling crease. He would bowl from Adelaide and his foot would reach The Murray, in Victoria.
But to suggest he was merely quick would be a rubbish of an understatement. At peak form, Shaun Tait was devastatingly quick. He was the kind of stuff journalists relish describing, using the phrase, ‘menacing pace’.
Quite like his bowling, abnormally fast and vaguely surprising, comes Tait’s retirement from international cricket
But as fans are you shocked? Has Tait’s social media account exploded with sad eulogies tipped on his playing career? Is the Australian team, who last played an ODI with him in 2011 gutted? Above all, what are the thoughts of Shaun Tait’s own body, a maniacally tired system, that for long has courted injuries that have panned out longer than Tait’s Australia career?
Above all, what are the thoughts of Tait’s own body, a maniacally tired system, that courted injuries, bruises that panned out longer than Tait’s Australia career?
One reckons, while a hush ‘no’ for an answer would work for most, Tait himself would be the happiest. No top-rate cricketer, blessed with an imposing frame and tremendous physicality likes to bench-warm or fetch drinks onto the ground. For the most part of his international career, Tait’s done just that. When not recuperating from a slew of injuries. Some to his lower back, others to do with tendons, knee and hell, even to the ankle. His highest scores in Tests are 8 and 11, respectively.
But to take cognizance of Tait’s career, you’ll have to focus on what happened between August 2005 and March, 2011
It’s what Tait did in between his Test debut back when McGrath, Warne were around and when not Sehwag and Tendulkar, but the South-Australian enticed Ravi Shashtri to say his favourite line, ‘like a tracer bullet’. Even though, for the millionth time.
Both on his Test debut till his last ODI game, a time span suggesting a pitiful 6 years of international cricket, Tait was a genuine wicket taker. Debuting in an Ashes Test, which Australia lost by 3 wickets, Tait took as many wickets. But he also gave away 100 runs, of England’s tally of 477. In addition, he bowled 5 horrendous wides, giving Gillie a bit of an exercise. In his ODI debut, also against England, Tait again picked up an impressive 3 wickets. But went for nearly 7
In his ODI debut, also against England, Tait again picked up an impressive 3 wickets. But went for nearly 7 an over. Finally, in his final ever appearance, playing against India, in a world cup quarter-final, Tait was the most expensive Australian bowler.
A game most remembered for Yuvraj’s heroics, Australia lamented their fastest bowler. Not Brett Lee. But Tait, who not only went for nearly 8 an over, but bowled 8 of the 21 extras the Aussies bowled.
If not for anything else, the bloke who hardly seemed interested in personal glories would love the fastest bowler tag
Usually, when you think of a Donald, Ambrose, or Akhtar, you marvel at their nagging pace and accuracy. But for Tait, who was both a Wes Hall for his long, languid run to the bowling crease and a Lee for his high arm action, was also about extracting natural bounce.
For the longest time, that seemed his thing. The flair to trouble batsmen with shorter one earned him fears, in his brief run in international cricket, that’s ended with 67 wickets. Very unlike of Tait’s DNA. Not even indicative of his true potential, part of which went wasted in frequenting the doctor and part of which was left for a T20 franchise in the IPL which doesn’t even exist today.
But above everything, one must regard Tait’s mammoth international cricketing moment. When he blazed a fiery cannon of a delivery, at 160.7 k/hr, nearly 100 miles to Salman Butt. And later, becoming the darling of media, bowling a rattler to Kieswetter, at 100.1 miles/hr.
That’s the long and short but fastest of Shaun Tait that could be said. With a hint of tease. With a trickle of pain.