Cricket: Tait's a different bowler now

Former Australian bowler Shaun Tait, now a T/20 gun for hire.
Former Australian bowler Shaun Tait, now a T/20 gun for hire.
Shaun Tait's days of making predictions about how fast he can bowl are long behind him.

The former Australian test player made a name for himself as a strapping seamer who slung down thunderbolts at express pace - terrorising batsmen around the world in the process - and was once clocked at 161.1kmh in a one-dayer against England in 2010.

But after standing down from the longer forms of the game due to injuries in 2011, the 29-year-old now operates exclusively as a Twenty20 gun for hire, which has landed him in Wellington for a two-game stint with the Firebirds in the HRV Cup.

The South Australian will debut for Wellington tonight when they host Canterbury at Westpac Stadium and he ducked away from making any spectacular forecasts about how quick he can bowl now.

"I'm not going to predict anything. I've done it before and you look like a loudmouth and then you come out and bowl powderpuffs and it doesn't look good. So, 130," he smiled.

Fans will be hoping for something a tad quicker.

The life of a fast bowler can be unforgiving, especially when requested to produce lengthy spells under a blistering-hot sun, but the rise of Twenty20 cricket has given seamers an opportunity to extend their careers with a maximum of four overs in each game.

Tait's body still takes plenty of punishment during a match, which is obvious when you see his action, and his right elbow has been a constant source of frustration in recent years.

"There's always pain," he said. "But I've got the physio to help me out. You sort of get used to it, I suppose.

"That's the whole idea of Twenty20, to try to play for as long as I can. I had my third surgery on my elbow in July so I don't want to have too many more surgeries. Hopefully I can keep playing T20s and keep bowling throughout the year. It'd be nice to play three or four more years.

"It's just one of those things where bone keeps growing in there and there are all sorts of different complicated reasons. I can't remember half the reasons. I try not to think about it, to be honest."

During Tait's time in the Australian squad he picked up various ailments, including back, shoulder and hamstring complaints, and he also took a break from the game in 2008 due to mental and physical exhaustion.

In between his stints on the sideline he managed to take 23 wickets at the 2007 World Cup as Australia claimed their third-consecutive title and he also played in the 2011 event. Tait also turned out in the 2007 and 2010 Twenty20 World Cups.

He finished his international career with 62 wickets from 35 one-day internationals at an average of 23.56 and also snared 28 Twenty20 scalps from 19 appearances at 17.78 and managed only five wickets at the unflattering average of 60.40 in his three tests.

Tait said it was disappointing he couldn't have played more often for Australia but conceded it was out of his control as injuries took their toll.

"I can't do too much about it. I probably can't get through too many one-day games or definitely not a test match or a [domestic] Shield game. So it's one of those things I have to deal with. But I was happy with what I did. I played in a couple of World Cups and had a decent record for Australia, so that was OK. You can't ask for much more."

Tait should feel right at home with Wellington as he and fellow short-term Australian import Cameron Borgas feature until England's Chris Woakes and Bangladeshi opening batsman Tamim Iqbal arrive for the remainder of the competition.

Aside from Borgas and Tait, wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi and Dane Hutchison previously lived in Australia, although they hold New Zealand passports, while Firebirds coach Jamie Siddons is also an Aussie.

Tait will return to Australia to play for the Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash after his brief stint with Wellington, while another sojourn to India looms in next year's IPL where he is on the books of the Rajasthan Royals.