Shaun William Tait
February 22, 1983, Bedford Park, Adelaide, South Australia
Right hand Bat
Right arm Fast
At his best Shaun Tait was one of the quickest bowlers in the world, but his best was seen only in the short formats for Australia, and even then only for a short while. A brutal bowler with a shoulder-strong action, Tait's body found the workload too tough in the long form and played only three Tests, and was done with first-class cricket by the age of 25.
In January 2008 he took an indefinite break from the game due to physical and emotional exhaustion and focused on one-dayers and T20s when he returned later that year. As a late addition to Australia's one-day squad in 2010, he unleashed a ball against England at Lord's that registered at 161.1kph, the second-fastest of all-time, but it was the consistent push for speed that crippled him regularly.
With a muscular and unrefined method that seemed to invite pain, Tait played a significant role in Australia's World Cup triumph in the Caribbean in 2007, where he claimed 23 wickets; only Glenn McGrath took more throughout the tournament. He was back in the West Indies three years later when Australia reached the World T20 final, and was a key component in their pace-heavy but unsuccessful World Cup campaign in the subcontinent in 2011. That looked set to be his international swansong as he retired from ODIs straight afterwards and quit state cricket later that year, but he remained active in the Big Bash League. Five years later, he was back in Australia's T20 team after a surprising recall in the lead-up to the 2016 World T20. But that was the last we saw of Tait on the international circuit: he retired - from all forms of the game - the following March, saying it all came down to his injury issues again. "The elbow has gone off a cliff now," he said.
The Bradman Young Cricketer of the Year back in the day in 2003-04, Tait also picked up the ING Cup's Best New Talent prize, chiefly for his 8 for 43 against Tasmania, the most impressive figures in domestic limited-overs history. He was included in the 2005 Ashes tour, where he played two Tests ahead of his more celebrated South Australia team-mate Jason Gillespie, but his action was unsustainable in the long form. An abbreviated 2005-06 included 6 for 41 in the ING Cup final - an amazing combination of spot-on speed and 14 wides. Still, when on song, his old-fashioned approach of yorkers and bumpers mixed with a modern dose of sharp reverse-swing caused huge excitement for everyone but the batsmen. A child of the Adelaide Hills, he received his best advice at the age of seven when his father suggested he play cricket.
Batting & Fielding