Tait waits in the wings
Wayne Phillips, the South Australian wicketkeeper who was part of the last Australian squad to lose an Ashes series in England, has suggested that Jason Gillespie's place in the Australian Test team could be under threat from Shaun Tait, the most promising fast bowler to emerge from Australia in almost a decade. The fact that Gillespie has been one of Tait's mentors in the South Australian set-up - Greg Chappell, the Indian coach, fast-tracked him into the side three seasons ago - lends even more spice to the situation.
Gillespie has had a wretched time of it in the one-day matches in England, carted around even by Bangladesh's batsmen. He has just five wickets from eight games, and they've come at a cost of 63 apiece. "I was interested to read what chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns said about reputations not meaning much and those performing will be given a chance," said Phillips, quoted on the BBC website. "If Tait does take his place it will be very sad but it's one of those things that can happen."
Tait will arrive in England on Monday, along with Justin Langer and Stuart MacGill as Australia gear up for an eighth successful defence of the Ashes. When he was initially included in the squad, it was seen as an opportunity for him to acclimatise to life at the top. But with Gillespie and Michael Kasprowicz struggling for form, Tait may well come into contention for the Lord's Test.
"Shaun is in pretty good nick," said Phillips, who is currently his coach at South Australia. "He is an exciting fast bowler who comes into a well-run group which will give him plenty of support. He is also a huge Gillespie fan, from a mentoring point of view."
Tait endured a nightmarish short stint at Durham last season but bounced back with some fiery bowling in the Pura Cup where he picked up 65 wickets at 20.16.