ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
Australia v Pakistan, Group A, World cup 2011, Colombo
Hilditch wants more impact from Tait
March 18, 2011
The man who signed off on Australia's aggressive World Cup attack believes Shaun Tait needs to have more impact if Australia are to win a fourth consecutive title. The chairman of selectors, Andrew Hilditch, also said that if Ricky Ponting can steer his side to another world triumph, it would rate as more satisfying than the previous three, which were achieved with great players such as Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist.
Tait was a key part of the 2007 campaign, when he finished joint second on the tournament wicket tally with 23 at 20.30, and his speed and hostility provided the perfect balance against the control of McGrath and Nathan Bracken. This time, Australia have gone with a trio of seriously quick bowlers, and while Tait is their leading wicket taker, he has also at times been slapped around the ground by moderate batsmen.
As the selector on duty, Hilditch will be watching at the Premadasa on Saturday when Tait, Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson try to run through Pakistan, their last chance to hone their approach before the quarter-finals. Hilditch said he was thrilled with the way Lee had returned from his serious elbow injury, but he wanted more from Tait as the knockout stage of the tournament rapidly approaches.
"I'm really happy with how Brett is going," Hilditch said. "I think it's a great credit to him, what he's done at his age and with the injuries he has had. He has come back just brilliantly. He's bowling really well. Mitchell Johnson has been really good. I think Taity has got to improve a little bit. He's going to have to impact with the new ball and then impact in the middle overs. I think the test on how that's going to work is going to be in the next few games."
The other men who will be important for Australia in the middle overs are the spinners, Jason Krejza and Steven Smith, who have not yet had a major impact on the tour. Against Pakistan, Hilditch will be keeping a close eye on Krejza, who, having made his name in the longer form of the game, was thrust into the one-day setup due to injuries to Nathan Hauritz and Xavier Doherty.
"It's a big test for Jason tomorrow on what could be a bit of a turning track," Hilditch said. "He's bowling pretty well. It's a steep learning curve, coming from playing Tasmanian cricket to playing against the best players in the world, but I think he's adjusting pretty well and it will be interesting to see how he goes tomorrow."
Australia are chasing their 35th consecutive World Cup match without a defeat, which stretches back to the 1999 tournament, the first of their three straight titles. As a selector since 1996, Hilditch has been involved in choosing all the successful squads, and he said that while 2007 was "the best campaign I've ever seen", it would be overtaken if Ponting lifts the trophy on April 2.
"If we manage to pull this off, I think it would be even better than 2007, because we've lost quite a few players since 2007. We had already lost quite a few players between 2003 and 2007. People forget that before 2007, we lost to England in the one-day series, we lost to New Zealand in the one-day series. We were actually going in looking like significant underdogs in 2007, and then we played the way we did.
"I think this is totally different. We've lost virtually most of the side since that time, and the fact that we've continued on the way we have done is great. This will be a massive challenge in these conditions. They're obviously not our ideal conditions and with this side, a fairly new side, it would be a great effort."
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