Australia v India: Shaun Tait shocked but stoked to get another opportunity for Australia

High five: Shaun Tait celebrates a wicket with Hurricanes teammate Michael Hill during the Big Bash League match against the Perth Scorchers. Photo: Michael Dodge – CAShaun Tait typically avoids answering phone calls from unfamiliar numbers. He is unsure why he deviated from that policy, but is relieved he did given what was conveyed: a shock return to the Australian team, just in time to audition for the World Twenty20.

Having not played for Australia for almost five years, since the 2011 World Cup, was reason enough for the express paceman not to have chief Australia selector Rod Marsh among his mobile phone contacts.

Both Tait and Marsh had a good laugh when the news was broken about his return to the Twenty20 squad for next week’s three matches against India, because it had been so long since there had been reason for them to talk in an official capacity.

Marsh admitted on Monday morning that Tait had been well off his radar at the start of this season’s Big Bash League, to the extent he knew nothing of his current fitness or form situation, beyond the fact he was on Hobart’s list.

That was not a sign of disrespect. Tait himself had no ambitions for after this BBL beyond his body behaving long enough for him to play a full season for a Hurricanes. It became a rare instance where Tait stayed free of injury for long enough to fulfil his goal.

“A lot of people said that I seem to be holding up all right. The past couple of years I’ve struggled to string games together, but this is the first time in two or three years, at least, that I’ve actually felt alright . . . and I’ve managed to play every game,” Tait said on Monday.

“Selection is all a matter of timing. There’s injuries to a few of the quicks, and I think that’s created an opportunity for me. I’m still confident that when I’m feeling all right I’m able to bowl fast. I think I’ve shown that in this BBL.”

The last time Tait, who turns 33 next month, played for Australia it was part of a World Cup in the subcontinent. He conceded there was no guarantee he would again be in India for another world cup five years later, the World Twenty20, but was delighted it was now officially a possibility.

“At least I’ve now got a chance,” he said. “Just because I’m in this squad it doesn’t mean they’ll be picking me [for the World Twenty20]. Like the rest, I’ve got to bowl well. If I don’t, this might be it – but at least I get to pull on an Aussie jersey again.”

When South Australian Tait last played at Adelaide Oval, late in this BBL season, he was gently booed by virtue of having joined the Hurricanes. His response was to consistently exceed 150km/h with the new ball.

The reception for Tait is likely to be a lot warmer if, as expected, he features in the first Twenty20 against India, to be played at Adelaide Oval on Australia Day.

“I can’t promise anything, other than I’m not going to change anything this time around. I’m just going to go out there and try to bowl fast. Whether that’s enough, we’ll see,” he said.

Another reason Tait is delighted with the call-up is it creates the first opportunity for him to play under Darren Lehmann, whose decorated career was winding down when Tait debuted for SA in 2002.

They played a total of 34 matches together before Lehmann retired, after which his career has led him to coaching Australia. Tait said he was pleased to have already spoken by phone to Lehmann, whose number he had never discarded from his contact book.

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