Shaun Tait concedes he has little chance of playing his first Test at his home ground in Adelaide after a disappointing performance in Australia's loss to India at the WACA. Tait was called into a four-man pace attack having not played Test cricket since the 2005 Ashes, and he said he was underdone heading into the Perth match.
Tait, who has played only three first-class matches this season including the Test, said when asked about his preparation that he was "a touch underdone, to be honest". He went wicketless in 21 overs in his first match in whites since early December.
"We are professional cricketers," he told Adelaide's Advertiser, "and we are training all the time and there's probably no reason why we should be underdone. But the fact is I hadn't had a whole lot of cricket under my belt and, obviously, there were limited opportunities to bowl as well due to over-rates."
He was remaining philosophical about his future at Test level, however, even if it's not an immediate one. Although Tait has been named in Australia's squad for Adelaide, Brad Hogg is the red-hot tip for a recall.
"There will be another game where I get a chance to do well," Tait said. "I'm not sure if I'll keep my spot here. We'll see how we go in the one-day games. Hopefully I'll get the chance to be a part of the squad there again. But at the end of the day, it's only a game and there will be another time where it might be a good day for me and the team as well."
However, Ricky Ponting said Australia had not written off Tait for the Adelaide Test starting on Thursday. "Tait also has the ability to bowl reverse-swing in Adelaide," Ponting said in the Australian. "With his low arm action and the amount of backspin he imparts on the ball, he usually makes it reverse swing more, and earlier, than other bowlers.
"He didn't have the impact I thought he would [in Perth], but he knows the conditions better than anyone else. He's done a great job for South Australia there in recent years."
Ponting, however, kept his focus firmly on the future when it came to Tait. "He's going to be a great asset to our team at some stage," Ponting said. "The World Cup he had was amazing. I've got no doubt he'll have the same impact as a Test bowler, as well. He's got unbelievable raw pace. If he can produce that in a Test, he will knock the best players in the world over."
There were echoes here of the same praise he showered on Tait in the lead-up to the Melbourne Test, on Boxing Day, when the bowler was again overlooked as Australia chose to keep with the convention of three fast bowlers and a spinner.
Michael Hussey, meanwhile, held out some hope of Tait retaining his place in the side. "I know Taity didn't get any wickets in Perth but I don't think they're going to write him off just because of one performance," Hussey told Cricinfo. "Obviously they've identified Taity as a future bowler for Australia. It's good for him to get an opportunity in Perth and I'm sure he will come back better and stronger. If he does play in Adelaide in front of his home crowd I'm sure he'll put in a better performance and then hopefully get a few wickets."
There have been comparisons between Tait and Lee in his earlier days and Hussey seemed to agree. "I think it's something he's working hard on and it's something Brett Lee had to work on to be a bit more consistent. It's a wonderful package to have in the team because he can crack a game open in the space of 20 minutes, sometimes in the course of a day. He can maybe be going for a few runs and suddenly everything clicks and he can take three or four wickets in a hurry which is incredibly attractive."