Shaun William Tait (born 22 February 1983 in Bedford Park, Adelaide, South Australia) is a professional Australian cricketer. Tait plays domestic cricket for South Australia and is also a representative for Australia at Test, One Day International and Twenty20 International level. He is a right arm fast bowler.
Tait’s delivery action is unique and marked by significant lateral twisting of the spine. The ‘slingy’ nature of his action has led to comparisons with former Australian fast bowler Jeff Thomson. Dubbed “The Wild Thing”, Tait is considered one of the fastest bowlers in the world and delivers the ball with phenomenal speed, at around 150km/h, and occasionally faster. One delivery was measured at 160km/h in an One Day International on 4 February 2007 against New Zealand. Despite his speed, Tait has often been described as “erratic” and is capable of bowling many extras. His unpredictability, however, is seen as a weapon to some, and his exceptional strike rate seems to confirm this. Tait has also been criticised as “expensive”, however others have mentioned that this is irrelevant, as his main role as a “strike bowler” is to take wickets rather than keep the run rate down.
After a Twenty20 match against New Zealand on 11 December 2007, in which Tait troubled the batsmen and took 2/22, New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori and coach John Bracewell publicly raised doubts over the legality of Tait’s bowling action. Tait labelled the comments as a “disgrace” and added that he’d be willing to undergo tests to prove his action is legal. Only two days after Vettori made them, he was dismissed by Tait in the opening match of the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy.
Tait has represented South Australia for a majority of his first-class career, however has also played matches for Australia A and Durham. He has taken over 150 first-class wickets at a strike rate of under 50.
At the age of nineteen, Tait made his first-class debut for South Australia against Western Australia on 19 December 2002 at the Adelaide Oval. He only bowled in one innings on his debut, yet finished with respectable figures of 3/77 off 22.2 overs. Tait played 5 games in his first season, taking 20 wickets at an average of 22.55. As a result of his strong first season, Tait was awarded with a place at the Australian Cricket Academy alongside such players as Ben Hilfenhaus and Luke Ronchi.
In the 2003-04 season, an in form Tait was selected in the Australia A team to take on the touring Indians. Tait took 3/85 in the Indians first innings, including the wicket of Virender Sehwag. Tait once again had a strong Pura Cup season, taking 30 wickets at 28.33. This helped earn Tait Bradman Young Cricketer of the Year for 2004. He was further rewarded as he was named in Australia’s squad to tour Sri Lanka after Brett Lee was ruled out through injury. While he didn’t play a match on the tour, his inclusion signalled that the Australian selectors saw him as a prospect for the future.
In July 2004, Tait was signed by Durham for the second half of the English County Championship season. His first match was against a Somerset side captained by Ricky Ponting. His County debut was a poor one and saw him take 0/113 off 12 overs including 21 no balls. Tait only played one more first-class match for Durham before flying home again.
Tait was rewarded with his first Cricket Australia contract for the 2004-05 season, being included ahead of Queensland fast bowler Andy Bichel. Tait repaid the selector’s faith in him by having his best Pura Cup season to date. He took 65 first-class wickets at an average of 20.16, surpassing Clarrie Grimmett’s record for most wickets in a season for a South Australian bowler. Perhaps Tait’s best performance of the season was his spell of 7/99 against Queensland at the Adelaide Oval in November 2004 in which he claimed the wickets of Australian representatives Andrew Symonds, Shane Watson, James Hopes, Jimmy Maher, Andy Bichel and Nathan Hauritz. His record breaking season helped him gain a place on the Australian 2005 Ashes tour. On this tour, Tait made his Test debut, and played one other first-class match against Worcestershire.
Tait missed the opening half of the 2005-06 Pura Cup season with an injury to his right shoulder which he sustained on the 2005 Ashes tour. He struggled on his return taking only 14 wickets at 38.35 in the 4 matches he played. Despite this, Tait was still named a part of the Australia A squad to play in the 2006 Top End Series. While he failed to pick up any wickets against Pakistan A, he managed to take 3/67 in India A’s first innings. Tait also had a strong first-class season in 2006-07 taking 29 wickets at 27.10. He also played a first-class match against the touring English side and took 3/87, including the wickets of Andrew Strauss and Ian Bell. Due to his good season, he won the Lord Hampden Trophy for South Australia’s best player for 2006-07.
An elbow injury kept Tait out for the opening parts of the 2007-08 Pura Cup season, however upon recovery a match against Queensland at the Brisbane Cricket Ground saw him take his first 10 wicket haul in first-class cricket. He took 3/69 in the first innings and 7/29 in the second, his best ever first-class figures.
Tait was named in Australia’s Test squad to tour Sri Lanka in 2004 as a replacement for the injured Brett Lee. Tait didn’t play a Test on the tour, however after an impressive domestic summer, in April 2005 Tait was named in Australia’s squad to tour England for the 2005 Ashes series.
Tait made his Test debut against England on 25 August 2005 at Trent Bridge. Some suggested that Tait should’ve played in the first Test of the series, but it was injury to Glenn McGrath and the poor form of Jason Gillespie that gave Tait his chance. Tait bowled 24 overs and took 3/97 in his first innings, the best figures of any Australian fast bowler in the match. Tait’s first Test wicket was that of Marcus Trescothick. He also picked up the scalps of England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff and batsman Ian Bell. While Tait went wicketless in the second innings, he held his spot to play in the final Test of the Ashes series at The Oval, taking 1/61 in the first innings and 1/28 in the second.
Tait injured his shoulder ahead of the Super Series against the ICC World XI, and as a result was ruled out of playing any of the matches. Despite calls from Jason Gillespie and Ian Chappell for his inclusion in the side for the 2006-07 Ashes series in Australia, Tait didn’t get a place in the team with the selectors opting for Stuart Clark who proved effective and quashed hope of Tait cracking the side for a while longer.
Tait was selected in the 13 man squad for Sri Lanka’s tour of Australia in November 2007, however his ongoing elbow injury forced him out, being replaced by Ben Hilfenhaus, with Mitchell Johnson making his Test debut. Having returned to fitness in December, he once again earned a spot in the Australian squad, this time for the Test series against India. While there was some suggestion that Australia might use Tait in a four pronged pace-attack as early as the first Test, spinner Brad Hogg was selected over for Tait for the first two tests. Tait was eventually chosen above Hogg for the third test, with the WACA wicket expected to suit. Although seam and swing dominated the match, Tait went wicketless in his 21 overs giving away 92 runs at an economy of 4.3.His claims to “bowl over” the Indian team had evidently backfired and he announced that he would take an indefinite break from cricket after this test.
One Day International cricket:
Tait made his One Day International debut on 2 February 2007 against England at the Sydney Cricket Ground in the 2006-07 Commonwealth Bank Series. Tait claimed 2/68 off 10 overs on debut and his first One Day International wicket was that of Ed Joyce. He was much more economical against New Zealand at the MCG, bowling a miserly 1/26 from 10 overs and clocking 160 km/h on the radar. Tait played no more games for the series, finishing with 3 wickets at an average of 31.33.
Later that month, Tait was selected as a part of Australia’s squad to take on New Zealand for the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy in New Zealand. Tait was selected for the final two games of the series, which were batsman dominated. He took a mere 2 wickets at an average of 62.00 as New Zealand chased down scores of over 300 twice and whitewashed a very understrength Australia.
Despite his lack of matches in the Chappell-Hadlee series, Tait was selected in Australia’s 15-man squad for the 2007 Cricket World Cup in the West Indies. As a result, both his greatest goals in cricket had been achieved, having already played two Ashes tests in 2005.
Tait wasn’t originally expected to play a large part in the World Cup, however with Brett Lee ruled out for the tournament due to an ankle injury, a relatively inexperienced Tait assumed Lee’s mantle as the spearhead of the bowling attack. Despite the added pressure, Tait performed to much acclaim in the World Cup, finishing the tournament as the equal second leading wicket-taker with 23 wickets at an average of 20.30. Tait’s best efforts of the tournament included a Man of the Match performance against England in a Super 8s match at Antigua in which he claimed 3/41 off 10 overs, as well as 4/39 off 10 overs, his best One Day International figures at the time, against a strong South African team in the Semi Final at St Lucia. While Tait went wicketless in a rain affected Final against Sri Lanka, Australia won the match and Tait’s efforts throughout the tournament helped Australia secure their third consecutive and fourth overall Cricket World Cup title in the “most dominant campaign” by a team in World Cup history.
Tait missed the Australian cricket team’s tour of India in October 2007 due to a complicated recovery after elbow surgery in June 2007 however once he recovered he gained selection ahead of Stuart Clark for the 2007-08 Chappell-Hadlee series in December 2007. In a series in which his bowling action was questioned, Tait performed well, taking 5 wickets at an average of 17.80.
Donald Bradman Young Cricketer of the Year: 2004
Lord Hampden Trophy: 2007
ICC Emerging Player of the Year: 2007
Australian Cricketers’ Association All-star Ford Ranger Cup team: 2007-08
Links to more information on Shaun Tait:
Cricket Archive Profile of Shaun Tait
Cricinfo Profile of Shaun Tait
Shaun Tait: Shaun Tait official website
Shaun Tait Profile | ODI , T20 and Test Statistics – Yahoo! Cricket
Shaun Tait on Facebook.com
*Acknowledgements to Wikipedia.org and owners of pictures and videos used.