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The Australian View by Peter English
August 25, 2005
England were racing at lunch before Tait and a couple of rain intervals helped draw them back. By stumps he had done everything promised: dished out yorkers and bouncers, swung the ball sharply, leaked boundaries and grabbed two crucial wickets.
Nothing in the game matches a seriously fast bowler at full charge on debut. His first spell was nervous but an over after the break proved he was comfortable. When the covers came off the next time he appeared to be running in calmly on a Pura Cup ground instead of Trent Bridge with the Ashes series balanced at one-all. After today plenty of people will be toasting the first performance of a confident man from the Adelaide Hills.
Shining the ball on his shirt to leave a stain like spilt wine, Tait is a throwback to the 70s with his scruffy, shirt-hanging-out style and desire to rough up batsmen. The only thing missing is gristly facial hair. Instead he's a cleanly-shaved, well-cropped 22-year-old.
Tait accepted the responsibility of a re-shuffled pecking order thanks to Jason Gillespie's poor form and Glenn McGrath's injured elbow, and with two quick wickets dragged his team-mates with him for their best spells of the day. Michael Kasprowicz waited three Tests for his first wicket, Brett Lee broke through in his opening over, and Tait's in-swinging yorker crashed into Marcus Trescothick's stumps in his seventh.
Running down the pitch with arms in the air he hugged Adam Gilchrist like a returning spouse at the airport. For Australia's 392nd Test player it was an important statement followed quickly by a superb fast-bowler's edge as Ian Bell made Gilchrist the fourth wicketkeeper to celebrate 300 dismissals. This time Tait offered a casual finger-swirl, which made him look like he'd been taking Test wickets for years.
Two catches were dropped off Kasprowicz and Lee bowled Trescothick with the 18th no-ball of the first session. They had transgressed a ridiculous 22 times, half of those from Kasprowicz, when rain finished the day. Club players are punished with fine-jars and push-ups for similar bowling and catching donations, but the team needs to avoid torn pectorals and further unscheduled injuries. A host of replica urns could be placed in a glass box near the door to remind them of the potential seriousness of their indiscretions.
While some of his heavily experienced team-mates were lethargic, Tait blew in some life with a debut that displayed his promise. Figures of 2 for 62 have already bettered the opening of Jeff Thomson, his slinging predecessor, and are encouraging for both a young bowler and a country searching for long-term prospects.
Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff
Plays of the day from the third ODI between England and India at Trent Bridge
Plays of the day from the tri-series match between Zimbabwe and South Africa
Would he have fared better than the incumbent middle-order batsmen, Root and Ballance?