England v Australia, 5th ODI, Lord's July 3, 2010

Tait keeps options open for Ashes return


Shaun Tait has left the door open for a return to Test cricket after producing one of the fastest spells ever seen at Lord's as he was clocked at 100mph. His 4 for 48 helped Australia to a 42-run victory as they reduced the series margin to 3-2, but it was the first three overs of his stint that really set pulses racing as he terrorised England's top order with a succession of hostile deliveries.

His opening over averaged 96mph and the fifth ball, to Craig Kieswetter, hit the three-figure mark . However, it was his third over that really damaged England as a searing delivery swung back to uproot Andrew Strauss's off stump before, two balls later, Michael Yardy shouldered arms at another lethal offering. In a sign that Tait's injury-prone body was being pushed to see how much it could handle, he sent down four overs before his first rest and while it is highly unlikely he can withstand the five-day game, it provides a tantalising prospect.

"I've never come out and said I've retired from the longer form," Tait said. "I haven't thought about it. I was pretty excited to be called up to the one-day side as I haven't been in it for over 12 months. I haven't played a four-day game for a long time now. I'm in a pretty good place right now. It's the first time for a long time I've stayed on the park as well. In the last eight or nine years I've been injured in each one, apart from this season."

After the fourth match of the series Ricky Ponting had been asked about persuading Tait back to Test cricket. Although the Australia captain has yet to speak to Tait about such a prospect, the idea of being able to unleash that raw pace in the five-day arena was clearly exciting even though the paceman hasn't played a first-class game since late 2008.

"I was asked the other day if I'd consider it and I certainly would," Ponting said, "but I was waiting to see how he came through these games. There are very few blokes in the world who can do what Shaun can and I think he showed today, even at very good top-order batsmen like Strauss, that he can bowl a ball that can get anyone out. And he has the ability to do that with the red ball as well.

"Ultimately it's up to him, but I know he wants to play a lot more cricket for Australia and if he has that desire and bowls like he has done here he'll be difficult to leave out. If it's another one or two-Test series I'll take any game he can play for us."

A more realistic prospect is that Tait can reprise the strike-bowler role he performed with great success at the 2007 World Cup in next year's tournament, as Australia aim for four titles in a row. Tait's performances in this series, where he finished with eight wickets at 12.37 from the three matches, enabled Australia to make up some lost ground on England after they had launched the series with two poor displays marked by a distinct lack of firepower at the Rose Bowl and Cardiff.

"I think he's made an impression on all their batters he's bowled at in this series," Ponting said. "I think Straussy will be pretty happy he's not playing in the next couple of games after that ball today."

"He was pretty quick today and he got the ball swinging a bit as well, which makes it harder," Strauss admitted. "It would certainly be up there with spells I've faced from Shoaib Akhtar and [Brett] Lee. He had a big impact on the result of the game, taking early wickets and putting us on the back foot early on."

Tait had woken in the morning feeling "stiff and sore" and was unaware he'd broken the hundred barrier until team-mates mentioned it but he knew he was in good rhythm from the Pavilion End. "That's the quickest I've bowled, recorded at least," he said.

"I've bowled 160 three times in my career so it's not the easiest thing to do. There are those days you come out and are at the top of your mark that you know your body is in decent shape. I was actually stiff and sore this morning but once I'd done the warm-ups I was fine and that first over I knew it was around that mark."

Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Michael on July 5, 2010, 15:27 GMT

    Tait is one of those bowlers who changes the perameters of batsmanship.It's still a man's game when he bowls. I think England will need to take Harmison along as their deterrent for the Ashes.

  • Dummy4 on July 5, 2010, 9:05 GMT

    Why no one is making any note of Ricky Ponting's poor form over an year or so?He is highly inconsistent these days and has left playing those match winning innings long ago.Just a score of 90 to show in a match out of 5 innings is not what Australia needs.I think He's patchy form is the main reosen for Australia's scratchy performances even though they have the best cricketing talents at their disposal.Its quite unaustralian to provide so many chances to the beleagured Ricky considering what the Australian selectors did to Michael Slater,Steve Waugh,and Michael Bevan to name a few.I think they are biding the time for next year's world cup and the change of captain is imminent after the world cup.

  • Rajaram on July 5, 2010, 8:18 GMT

    Shaun Tait rightfully won the Man of the Match award in the 5th ODI - for the most hostile fast bowling seen in recent years. "Recent years?" said Michael Holding, also known as Whispering Death for his lethal fast bowling."Donkey's years!" he told Michael Atherton.

  • Dummy4 on July 5, 2010, 3:37 GMT

    Naveenathan's question is a fair one but easily answered. A lot of those runs came off hook shoots that were largely uncontrolled and could just as easily been wickets. Collingwood was the only player to score authoritatively off him with some excellent strokeplay. His two balls to Strauss and Yardy were formidable - unplayable would be an exaggeration. Strauss was attempting an orthodox defensive shot. There was no error in judgment or shot selection, the ball just moved too much too fast and tore out the off stump of a solid batsmen in good form.

  • John on July 4, 2010, 23:17 GMT

    @landl, I think you'll find England weren't actually one batsman short with Pietersen, if you were actually watching you'd have seen that his footwork was fine when he played the cut shot that got him out, he just played over the top of the ball. I'd like for you to explain what exactly England have done to show that they can come anywhere near Australia over 5 days. Anderson's bowling performance last game was laughable, given that the pitch was seeming all over the place AND swinging, I really found it hilarious to watch him bang the ball in back of a length and waste the new ball. Tim Bresnan - is he in your test side? Seriously? Look no further than his figures please. Better hope Finn is all he's hyped up to be Broad and Swann seem like your only semi-decent bowlers at the moment, but Broad really is looking like another Harmison to me, I'll be watching to see where his first ball in Aus is fielded. And Swann, well he's going to be a finger spinner in Australia. Enough said really

  • richard on July 4, 2010, 23:12 GMT

    'Strordinary really. You spend your entire life as an England cricket fan hyping up chronic injury cases, mapping out naive flights of fancy and carefully tugging the wool over your eyes in the months running up to the Ashes. Then all of a sudden, the cards are shuffled and you're looking at a bunch of desperate, deluded Aussies going through the same tragic motions in your place. Guys: Tait will not play in the Ashes, for the simple reason that it would leave Oz a bowler short for the entire second innings (at best) of the first Test he played in. He is a Simon Jones / Sid Lawrence waiting to happen. Plod: don't expect to see Luke Wright and Paul Collingwood trundling in at Brisbane in November. Steve Finn might be a bit of a surprise though. Swann and Broad are both shaping up for a very big series too. (Incidentally, when you call it a meaningless ODI series, do you mean to imply that Straya didn't care about it? Think Ponting and the boys might be interested to hear that...)

  • Paul on July 4, 2010, 22:06 GMT

    I think Tait is a fantastic bowler in T20. He's a very useful bowler in ODI's, except that he's very limited in how you can use him and won't often get through 10 overs, which is a problem for a specialist bowler. But Test cricket? He's only dangerous when you take risks to score off him. Any decent batting lineup would just block him out and sledge him about his fitness. On the other hand, you'd love to have him bowling at the tail - I reckon he'd get a lot of wickets this way, like an express Murali without a suspect action.

  • A on July 4, 2010, 22:05 GMT

    If Tait would'nt have come good in the last game then Cricket Austraila were desperately planning to include John Howard in the playing eleven since his ouster from ICC post.

  • sridhar on July 4, 2010, 17:35 GMT

    Australia are well placed with both Tait and Nannes hanging around in the sidelines. Tait may not be a test player yet but he could be useful in next year"s world cup , which will be in the subcontinent and where the ball tends to reverse. It was interesting to see how the English batsmen were struggling when the speed gun touched 100 miles . He can be very disconcerting. Of course there is a big question mark about his fitness. Australia do have enough resources who are waiting in the wings and can afford to pick and choose . Tait is a bit of a shock factor. He can be a big factor in Australia"s success in future. Interesting times ahead. Ramanujam Sridhar

  • Greg on July 4, 2010, 14:56 GMT

    As a proud South Aussie, was absolutely stoked with the Big Rig's performance at LORDS. To any England fan getting carried away with a 3-2 victory, stop dreaming. You will get thrashed in OZ. To LANDL47, what have Kevin Pieterson or Keiswetter done in these One dayers? How can you say you were batting one short, it was at least 2 short! Your medium pacers will not bowl Australia out twice in 3 test matches let alone 5. So bring on the Ashes. We played poorly and you won a meaningless ODI series. By the way, who are your matchwinners in the 5 day arena???

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