Tait could make a Tanvir-like impression - Berry
Darren Berry, the Rajasthan Royals' director of coaching, has said Australian fast bowler Shaun Tait could make an "enormous" impression during the IPL's second edition if he is available for the whole season. Although Rajasthan, the inaugural champions, will miss the services of Pakistan left-armer Sohail Tanvir, the highest wicket-taker in the 2008 season, Berry believed Tait could be as destructive with his pace as Tanvir was with his swing.
"I'm extremely excited about the fastest bowler in the world, Shaun Tait," Berry said as he announced Rajasthan's three latest overseas signings. "He has been out of the Australian team for a period but both [Shane] Warne and myself are quite close to Tait and believe he could have a significant impact in the IPL. Depending on his selection for the Australian ODI team [against Pakistan], we will have him for at least half of the tournament and his presence will be enormous. He is crucial given Tanvir's absence this year."
While Rob Quiney, the hard-hitting Victoria top-order batsman, has been picked as an uncapped signing, Victoria's fast bowler Shane Harwood and Queensland allrounder Lee Carseldine have been signed as replacements for the Pakistan pair of Tanvir and Kamran Akmal.
Berry said Rajasthan were aware the expectations will be higher after their "fairytale" triumph in the inaugural season. "Last year after the defeat in the first game against Delhi Daredevils I read headlines that Rajasthan were the circus of the IPL," he said. "The story that unfolded after that was like a fairytale. This is a new group of players, a new season and all other franchises will be looking to beat Rajasthan Royals. Last year we were the underdogs and this year we are the top dogs, but we still confident."
According to Berry, the team's approach will not change much, a fact reflected during the February 6 auction in Goa. The team ignored the big names once again in favour of Twenty20 specialists, signing allrounder Tyron Henderson and Tait. Henderson, an unknown name in India, was an attractive choice given his exploits in the shorter format in South Africa and England. Rajasthan faced stiff competition from Deccan Chargers in their pursuit to buy Henderson, but eventually bagged him for US$650,000 - making him their second-most expensive signing.
Berry said Henderson, a South African who moved to England through the Kolpak route, was strongly recommended by South Africa captain Graeme Smith and Jeremy Snape, part of Rajasthan's coaching staff. Berry said Henderson's match-winning abilities - he is the highest wicket-taker in Twenty20 cricket and can hold the innings in the middle with his powerful hitting - made him a valuable purchase.
"That was a wonderful signing and that was reflected in the auction where there was intense rivalry for signing him," he said. "He will be an option in our middle order and his bowling is very, very good towards the end of a Twenty20 innings."
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo