May 16, 2009

Michael Jeh

Messing with Shaun Tait

Michael Jeh

It’s clear that Cricket Australia viewed him as a risky proposition and have therefore left him off their contract list. He’s not long returned to the game after battling a bout of depression/anxiety/battle fatigue, call it whatever.

His return from that mental injury did not stop him from breaking down with more physical ones. Unable to sustain his pace for more than a few overs, Australia’s selectors obviously felt they cannot afford the luxury of a fast bowler who can’t bat and is ponderous in the field. Perhaps when Warne, McGrath and Gillespie were in their prime, they could have contemplated a high-risk match winner but those halcyon days are long gone. They now need 11 fit players, each of them operating at full throttle. That’s what happens when you’re back with the rest of the pack. Like the global economy, this is a time for consolidation rather than speculation. Fair enough. Even Tait wouldn't argue with that logic I'm sure.

I can’t help but feel for the poor chap though. Denied the chance to play in the IPL because he was supposedly being rested for national duties, he is then informed that his contract will not be renewed. What exactly was he being saved for?

Surely the selectors must have known their own minds a few weeks ago. What has happened in the last few weeks in the physiotherapy room to suddenly make them realise that he was not going to make the cut? It’s hardly like he’s played a few games of cricket, bowled poorly and cooked his own goose. Has he turned up late for his massage sessions or something? If they honestly felt that he was probably going to miss out on the next contract list, why on earth did they deny him a chance to earn his living in the IPL and find his form again? It would be upto his IPL coach to decide whether to pick him or not.

Tait can have no complaints about missing out on a contract. His stuttering performances in the ODI’s last summer were not those of a player who deserved to play for his country. Anyone who has to be nursed through a ten over stint in four spells is clearly not much use in the modern game. But he is entitled to be aggrieved about a basic lack of transparency when it comes to the selector's long-term intentions. At best, it smacks of poor planning. At worst, it’s just plain unkind.

On his day, at the top of his game (which admittedly has not been all that often!), his unusual action and blistering pace is good for the game. A breath of fresh air for a game that has precious few old-fashioned characters. The game owes him nothing except perhaps a dash of honesty. That’s all he’d ask for I’m sure.

Michael Jeh is an Oxford Blue who played first-class cricket, and a Playing Member of the MCC. He lives in Brisbane

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Posted by Walter on (May 20, 2009, 7:33 GMT)

As much as i hate to admit(im a massive SA fan) Tait is a fantastic and exciting bowler. He can blast teams off the pitch in the space of 2 overs how much more reason do you need? CA have been making the most absurd calls since their almost invincible team of yesteryear has broken down through retirement. CA need to back the talent they have..otherwise Aussie too might see supertalented players play for other countries. (KP anyone?)

Posted by The Wog on (May 20, 2009, 6:39 GMT)

Technically, CA was keeping their options open for the T20 WC, and he was under contract until after that. Legally, they had the right.

Morally repugnant to rest a guy for a WC they then didn't pick him for. They would never have picked him without proven match fitness, and had no opps to prove it - therefore they were never planning on picking him. If he broke down in IPL, so what? They didn't pick him anyhow.

I had more chance of a central contract than Tait did. Now he's a low profile state player (at best) next time IPL goes around - his market value is $0.

CA's actions were so despicable that I have to assume they were deliberately knifing him. Way to accelerate retirements - be seen as a greedy, heartless employer by the ACA.

As for the people who said Tait didn't deserve a contract for his attitude - have a look at the recent quotes from the WI captain. It doesn't seem to be a barrier to his employment.

Posted by Andrew on (May 19, 2009, 1:03 GMT)

The truth is, if Shaun tait got a contract it would have been on reputation alone. he hasn't done anything lately to warrant one and is still not living up to his potential. I am a big fan but he is too erratic. When on his game he is an unplayable wicket taking machine, but if everything is not going right he is a bowler who leaks runs and extras. Instead of talking about tait, we should be discussing why on earth Brad HOdge keeps getting looked over.

Posted by Allan on (May 18, 2009, 4:23 GMT)

I'm Indian and I'm sure Tait would ahve been a huge draw in the IPL. It's perfet for his type of bowling. As we've seen one over or one player can change a match. Even if he fires only 25% of the time he's worth the price tag because as we see in IPL2 7 out of 8 teams are all very competitive!

Posted by Lefty on (May 18, 2009, 2:52 GMT)

Cricket Australia dangled the carrot in front of Tait and hit him with the stick!

I think they knew exactly what they were doing to Tait, I think that he will retire from international cricket and become an IPL specialist if there is no intervention e.g. from a selector/coach.

Tait much like Harminson, is a modern fast bowler. He needs to be looked after, mentally massaged, given constant attention. If he is looked after he is a very dangerous, pacy strike bowler. If he is left alone to fend for himself then he gets disheartened and his motivation drops.

Maybe the author is right and Tait is a luxury of a bygone era, however for me the real question is that whether Tait is in the top 5 pacemen in Australia ........ on current form is no, based on potential, yes! Johnson and Siddle are 1 and 2, Lee and Clark are 3 and 4 .... the battle for #5 is between Tait, Bollinger and Hilfenhaus. If the top 4 listed are all fit then Tait is that #5!

I hope Tait stays and fights for his place.

Posted by ted on (May 18, 2009, 0:04 GMT)

shaun tait should not play for aussie as he is unfit and in the end selectors need to be.maybe they could use this on a few others players.being dropped never hurt great players ie boon waugh ponting should i go on.stop whingeing play some decent cricket tait and you might get selected.

Posted by D.V.C. on (May 17, 2009, 23:06 GMT)

I get the impression that the selectors were saving Tait for the World T20. They decided not to pick him because they already selected an injury risk in Brett Lee.

The thing that has changed that the author asked about, is that Lee hasn't recovered from injury as fast as the selectors thought he would.

Now, why on earth you would select a recovering Lee over a recovering Tait for T20 is beyond me. Tait is perfect for that format. His batting doesn't matter two hoots, and in 4 overs he can wreck a T20 innings more easily than Lee can. Bizarre decision to leave him out.

Posted by waterbuffalo on (May 17, 2009, 18:40 GMT)

Whether he was fit or not is immaterial, he wanted to play in the IPL, CA said no and that cost Tait 375,000 USD, a staggering sum. If CA cost Tait 75,000 that still would have been more than a year's salary in the USA.

Posted by Punjabi Munda on (May 17, 2009, 16:47 GMT)

The IPL provides cricketers like Tait an opportunity to hone their skills and perform against Quality Opposition and Attack. Look at Ravi Bopara for Punjab and how wonderfully he's translated that form into Test Cricket scoring 3 consecutive centuries against the Windies. Look at Symmonds and how this is preparing him for the defence of the Ashes. Tait would've been an absolute heandful. He's the Impact Player from whom just one spell of 4 -5 overs can swing a match and series. Looks like CA has gift wrapped a present to the ECB.

Posted by Brady on (May 17, 2009, 12:58 GMT)

You seem to imply that he's not playing because CA decided he shouldn't. The fact is that he is not fit to play now, and CA want to make sure he doesn't play while he isn't completely fit for fear of aggravating his injuries.

Thats what they are telling you while Tait maintains he is fit. He has been shafted by CA again and I feel sorry for the bloke. His game is built on confidence and CA haven't helped that what has he done wrong? Plus if they are worried about his injury's just sit back and tell me why Watson was picked again, his middle name is INJURY...

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Jeh
Born in Colombo, educated at Oxford and now living in Brisbane, Michael Jeh (Fox) is a cricket lover with a global perspective on the game. An Oxford Blue who played first-class cricket, he is a Playing Member of the MCC and still plays grade cricket. Michael now works closely with elite athletes, and is passionate about youth intervention programmes. He still chases his boyhood dream of running a wildlife safari operation called Barefoot in Africa.

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