Australia in England / Features

England v Australia, 4th Test, Trent Bridge, 1st day

Tait's steep learning curve

Shaun Tait's impressive debut, and Ricky Ponting discovers his bowling skills

On the ball with S Rajesh and Arun Gopalakrishnan

August 25, 2005

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Shaun Tait came into an Australian side, which was without Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie, and by close of play he had done enough to justify his selection, ending with impressive figures of 2 for 62 from 14 overs. Tait's first spell in Test cricket was hardly impressive - on a pitch lacking in pace, he bowled back of a length or short far too often, and rarely looked threatening. After the tea break, though, he altered his length, bowling up to the bat and getting appreciable movement, and while he went for more runs, he also bowled more wicket-taking deliveries (five out of 41 before tea; 10 out of 47 after the interval).

The other bowling card that was a success - far more unexpectedly - for Australia was the captain himself. Before tea, England were rattling along at 4.5 runs per over, and of the 134 runs, 46 came through cover and midwicket, and only one through third man - a clear indication that the batsmen were hardly ever troubled and completely on top. Then came Tait's wicket, after which Ricky Ponting brought himself on and did an excellent job of bottling an end up. He bowled six overs, and never once strayed more leg side than off stump, in the process getting the key wicket of Michael Vaughan. Don't be surprised if Ponting's seen offering a few bowling tips to Jason Gillespie in the nets tomorrow morning.

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.
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