Tait replaces injured Hauritz in ODI squad
Shaun Tait is set for a surprise return to Australia's ODI team and Steven Smith could be in line for his Test debut after Nathan Hauritz was sent home from England with an injured foot. Hauritz was troubled by pain in his left foot during the first two defeats to England and he is flying back to Australia to recover, which places him in serious doubt for Australia's upcoming Tests against Pakistan.
"While the pain was manageable in the first game, it became more severe during the second game," Alex Kountouris, the team physio, said. "The pain is likely to be related to a previous foot injury and we have decided the best course of action is to withdraw Nathan from the current tour to allow sufficient time for it to recover. His return to training will be determined in the coming weeks."
Given that Australia's Test series against Pakistan begins in less than three weeks, that means the legspinning allrounder Smith is likely to be elevated to Test status. Australia have few other spin options, with Jason Krejza having had hip surgery during the off season and Jon Holland also having been sidelined by injury.
In the meantime, the one-day squad will welcome Tait, who has been playing Twenty20 cricket with Glamorgan and was therefore in Cardiff as Australia lost the second one-day international on Thursday, where they were without Ryan Harris due to a groin injury. Tait will travel with the squad to Manchester for Sunday's third encounter and if he plays, it will be his first ODI since February 2009.
Although he has given up on first-class cricket due to the strain on his body, Tait has remained a powerful Twenty20 strike weapon for Australia. He has kept playing 50-over cricket for South Australia but hasn't had quite the same success, and in last summer's FR Cup he collected 10 wickets at 44.50 with an economy rate of 6.26.
"In view of the injury to Nathan Hauritz and some concerns about the injury to Ryan Harris, the national selection panel (NSP) has made the decision to add Shaun Tait to the ODI squad for the remaining one-day games against England," Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of selectors, said. "Shaun is still very much in the thoughts of the NSP for the upcoming ICC World Cup and these games present Shaun with a great opportunity to again represent Australia in one-day cricket."
Assuming Tait's body can handle the workload of ten overs, he will add an x-factor to an Australian attack that has struggled for penetration in the opening two games. On an Old Trafford pitch expected to help the fast men, England's batsmen might not like the prospect of facing up to a man who during the Australian summer broke the 160kph barrier.
The team's medical staff will continue to monitor Harris in the lead-up to the third game at Old Trafford. He was Australia's best bowler in the opening match but reported soreness in the groin area after the game.
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo