There are few better sights in cricket than a fast bowler steaming in and tormenting the batsman physically and psychologically. Among the breed of express pacers in the modern era, Shaun Tait treated spectators across the globe to a thrilling exhibition of quick bowling. The 34-year old recently announced his retirement from all forms of cricket.
Although he was not quite able to fulfill those lofty expectations in a career besotted with numerous injuries, the Australian provided plenty of exhilarating moments. His unique action as well as unbridled pace often left batsmen gasping for breath and turned many a game on its head.
Here are five such memorable spells from Tait’s fast and furious career.
#5 – 6/41 in 2006 ING Cup final
Although he had already made his Test debut then, the 2006 ING Cup final paved the way for Tait to enter into Australia’s limited-overs teams. On a rapid Adelaide surface, South Australia were blown away for just 154 without even batting their full quota of 50 overs.
Tait, who had just turned 23, almost single-handedly brought his state team on the brink of a famous victory. A strong New South Wales batting line-up led by Brad Haddin felt the tremors of the right-armer's raw pace. Despite picking up six wickets from his ten overs, his effort went in vain as the visitors held on to complete a thrilling one-wicket triumph.
Nevertheless, he managed to send a timely reminder to the national selectors.
#4 – 3/13 against Pakistan in 2010
By the time the 2010’s decade began, Tait had decided that his body would not meet the rigors of red-ball cricket. Placing his focus solely on the shorter formats, he also kept an eye on the speed gun. At the end of a dismal tour wherein they had lost every international match, a demoralized Pakistani outfit found themselves under the mercy of the rejuvenated fast bowler.
Chasing only 128 runs to finally notch up a victory, the Pakistan batsmen were left intimidated by Tait’s menacing pace. His first two overs all contained deliveries in excess of 150 kilometers per hour including one at 160.7 that remains the fastest delivery on Australian soil. Shocked by his lightning-quick spell, the visitors limped to a 2-run defeat.
Watch: Tait’s rapid spell against Pakistan (Video Courtesy: Trevor Byers Cricket)
#3 – 5/32 against RCB in 2011 Champions League T20
A tournament which used to pit the best T20 teams on the planet against one another evoked one of Tait‘s splendid spells. In the 2011 edition of the now defunct Champions League T20, the South Australia pacer almost pulled off a one-man rescue act against the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in their own den.
A power-packed top order featuring the likes of Chris Gayle, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Virat Kohli were making a mockery of the stiff target of 215. However, Tait returned to the equation in the 15th over and removed the Indian batsman. With 18 needed from the final two overs, he picked up three wickets in the penultimate over to tilt the game in the visitors’ favour.
In the end, KB Arun Karthik’s last-ball six helped RCB clinch a nerve-wracking tie.
Watch: Tait’s remarkable spell in the 2011 CLT20 (Video Courtesy – Star Sports)
#2 – 4/48 against England in 2010
Breaking the 100 miles per hour mark is every speedster’s dream. In an ODI against England at the iconic Lord’s stadium, Tait sent down a delivery clocked at 100.1 mph (161.1 kph) and entered an exclusive club featuring Shoaib Akhtar and Brett Lee.
Australia were defending 277 on a batting-friendly pitch. However, Tait broke the back of England’s lineup with a two-wicket burst in the fifth over. He returned in the 41st over and effectively sealed the game for his side by getting rid of the well-set Paul Collingwood. The hostile stuff earned him a Player of the Match award.
Watch: Tait’s fastest delivery breaches the 100 MPH barrier (Video Courtesy – Waqas Ahmed Khan)
#1 – 4/39 against South Africa in 2007 World Cup semi-final
Tait’s finest hour came in the 2007 World Cup held in the Caribbean. With 23 scalps from 11 matches, he played a key role in Australia winning the coveted trophy for the third consecutive time. On pitches offering variable bounce, the seamer made an indelible mark by finishing as the tournament’s joint-second highest wicket-taker.
During the all-important semi-final at Gros Islet, Tait's tour de force knocked the wind out of South African sails. Upon dismissing AB de Villiers, he gave a thorough working-over to the aggressive Herschelle Gibbs before dismissing him in a crucial stage of the match. His performance propelled the Australian juggernaut to the summit clash which they eventually won by D/L method.
Watch: Tait’s engrossing duel with Herschelle Gibbs in the World Cup semi-final (Video Courtesy – 172Allrounder721)