Cow Corner

The paceman who could’ve been a Test great

Cow Corner

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Shaun Tait, a Test great? It may sound like an absurd statement given that the Radox bath-loving, Elastoplast-sponsored paceman had already nearly hung up his boots and shoulder brace three times by the age of 25, but his potential has always been staggering.

The South Australian, nicknamed 'The Sloon', will go down as one of cricket's great enigmas, one of this generation's lost stars: a cricketer with incredible talent and dazzling attributes, yet without the career stats to back up his ability.

Tait is now 28-years-old, and only now has he found his market: bowling three-over maximum spells, fielding at fine leg, wildly wielding the long handle, and only participating in pyjama cricket.

It is a crying shame for a cricketer who would have been more at home in a bristling, swaggering West Indies pace attack under Clive Lloyd.

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In England last year, Tait hit 160kph, and he continues to terrorise batsmen the world over with his searing pace, slingy technique, and ability to swing the ball in very, very late.

Ian Chappell took some gum out of his mouth for a second to say this about the bowler: "He can take wickets any time and any place, while being economical at the same time. Tait is a game changer if he stays healthy."

And that has always been the perennial problem for him. Tait has a shudderingly bad back, a dodgy shoulder, tantalisingly weak knees, ropey ankles and temperamental elbows.

Those issues aside, there is nothing stopping him.

Tait picked up 23 wickets in his only previous World Cup campaign in 2007, including four crucial scalps in Australia's semi-final win over South Africa.

His strike rate of 26.9 is the third best of all time among bowlers who have played more than 25 matches and have taken over 40 wickets in ODIs.

Tait finished up as the tournament's equal-second wicket-taker with his 23 breakthroughs coming at 20.30, but even those figures do not suitably convey the effect he has on opposing batsmen.

When the paceman roars in, almost bends double, then hurls down a flurry of thunderbolts, even the most accomplished and assured of batsmen quake in their boots.

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He may have given up on playing in Test match or first-class cricket, but at least Tait has elected to remain in the sport and showcase his talent in the shortest forms of the game.

The sight of Tait sending the middle stump off for a power walk behind the wicketkeeper is one which continues to amaze and enthrall, but cricket lovers will have to content themselves with witnessing mere fleeting stints from the fast bowler.

The words 'right arm, very fast' are sadly used on an all-too-rare basis in the modern game. The travesty of Tait's incapability to participate in Test cricket can never be good for cricket, but at least he still has a role to play on the world stage.

The presence of the Australian and the West Indies' Kemar Roach in the game is something which must be treasured.

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Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke were engaged in what appeared to be a perma-feud in the field as the Australia skip and his upstart vice bickered constantly. Have some respect, Pup.

No wonder Punter receives a slow over-rate rap after virtually every single match...

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Now, Cowers has been following the training methods of many sides through this World Cup, particularly the antics of Pakistan.

Pictured below is further evidence that many will go to almost any lengths to avoid doing anything remotely cricket-related on the training ground.

Shoaib Akhtar (left) shows off his footballing skills and one of the reasons why he has endured so much knee trouble over the years; Ireland's John Mooney (centre) indulges in some rugby, while Shahid Afridi (right) wins the latest Pakistan dance-off with this snake-hips number.

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SHOT OF THE DAY: Alex Obanda unleashed a monstrous blow to send a 90mph length delivery from Shaun Tait onto the roof at the top of the pavilion over long on - it was a quite staggering shot. The Kenyan was promptly castled next ball.

STAT OF THE DAY: As a result of Australia's victory, Ponting became the first player to be on the winning side in 250 ODI matches.

TWEET OF THE DAY: "Nice to have a day off. Seeing Goochie unwittingly soak the German sunbathers as he dived into the pool was an epic moment!" (Graeme Swann provides some priceless banter from the England camp.)

USER COMMENT OF THE DAY: "I think the Kiwis have been better since Daniel Vettori­ went off, maybe they have played as they wish, instead­ of under the control of their once supposed superstar.­ Can't they afford any physios? It was­ embarrassing to watch the captain refusing to leave­ the field as if they couldn't do without him and­ jeopardising their chances later on. Then, hobbling off­ with no assistance and not even a wet sponge." (Matthew Robinson launches an astonishing tirade on the injured Black Caps skipper.)

COMING UP: Bangladesh host the Netherlands at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong, in a match which looked set to be a dead rubber until England came to town. Then later, Pakistan entertain Zimbabwe at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium.

CAPTION COMPETITION: The winner of yesterday's caption contest was Rishigupta, who voiced a policeman 'dropping' charges for Kamran Akmal. Here is today's image, and whoever finds the best line to match will be announced in tomorrow's blog...

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