Batsmen beware - Lee and Tait may open
Shaun Tait and Brett Lee could form an intimidating new-ball partnership after Ricky Ponting said they could both fit into the same side. Lee's ankle injury forced him out of the World Cup and allowed Tait the chance to come in and collect 23 wickets at 20.3.
The prospect of the pair working together excites Ponting. "You can absolutely have both those guys in the one team, and if you put a couple of other steadier guys around him you'd have a pretty awesome attack," Ponting told The Australian. "Tait can do a great job for you with the new ball in Test cricket as well as one-day cricket, which is how we used him in the World Cup.
"He knocks batsmen over. If he gets that new ball swinging and he gets it right, there aren't many batsmen in the world who are going to be able to keep him out."
Tait said opening with Lee "would be awesome". "If I can work towards that and Brett can come back stronger from his injury it would be a good thing for the country to watch, I reckon," he said.
Ponting said Tait had taken over the team's role as the "out and out strike bowler" in the World Cup. "Brett was that a few years ago, but I think he's been able to change his whole game around and become economical." He called Tait "Mr Unpredictable". "You could bowl him for just two or three overs up front in Test cricket, too, and then bring on someone steady like Stuey Clark."
Glenn McGrath, who celebrated his retirement during a public reception in Sydney on Thursday, agreed with Ponting. "'Binga' [Lee] might be classed as a pedal-to-the-metal type of bowler, but I think his control is pretty good," McGrath said. "I think what makes Taity special is his uniqueness. As long as no-one tries to change that he should be fine."
The squad has lost four long-term members over the past five months, with McGrath joining Shane Warne, Justin Langer and Damien Martyn in retirement, but Ponting expects his new-look team to keep the same standards. "I actually see it as one of the most exciting phases of my career," Ponting said in the Sydney Morning Herald. "The most important thing is that the older guys in the team have to keep maintaining their high standards, and if we have to carry some of the younger guys through for a while, so be it."
Adam Gilchrist said it would be a challenge to maintain the results. "But we're too well set up," he said. "We've got such a good infrastructure. We're the world leaders big-time in that area alone, let alone every other area that we dominate the world in."