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'The fastest spell I've kept to': Gilchrist

Adam Gilchrist reflects on Shaun Tait's exhilarating spell in a T20 match against New Zealand a decade ago

He faced and kept to some of the fastest bowlers to play the game and legendary gloveman Adam Gilchrist has singled out a spell from Shaun Tait as the quickest he's ever witnessed from behind the stumps.


Gilchrist says Tait's spell in a one-off T20 against New Zealand at the WACA in 2007 was the sharpest he's ever kept to, in a match the speedster might remember for all the wrong reasons.

Leading into the opening match of their 2007 limited-overs tour of Australia, the Kiwis could have been forgiven for thinking Tait may be a few yards short of his absolute fastest; the 20-over game was still in its infancy and wasn't yet held with the gravitas of Test and ODI cricket by the world's leading players, so much so that the hosts donned shirts (yellow singlets with grey undershirts, to be precise) bearing their nicknames rather than their actual surnames.

Adam 'Churchie' Gilchrist in talks with skipper Michael Clarke // Getty
Adam 'Churchie' Gilchrist in talks with skipper Michael Clarke // Getty

Only months prior, Tait had undergone surgery on his troublesome right elbow, which had ruled him out of the inaugural World T20 earlier that year.

So after losing two wickets to Brett Lee inside their initial six overs and successfully negotiating Mitchell Johnson's opening over, the Black Caps may have breathed a small sigh of relief when the returning Tait – with the moniker 'Sloon' on his singlet, believed to be a reference to a Sri Lankan hotel receptionist mispronouncing the South Australian’s first name - was thrown the ball.

In an exclusive chat with Cricket Network, Gilchrist sets the scene for what was about to come.

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"'Taity' bowling at the WACA down-breeze," he recalls. "Evening. T20. Knowing he's only got four overs max to bowl."

His first ball was dug in, with Jamie How's flailing gloved pull shot forcing Gilchrist to leap full stretch, reeling in the catch on the rebound.

After describing the grab as "class without the 'CL'" over his lapel mic on the television broadcast, Gilchrist prophetically announced "the Wild Thing has been unleashed".

Three balls later, Ross Taylor too was beaten by pace, chopping on to his stumps.

Pumped! Tait celebrates a wicket on T20I debut // Getty
Pumped! Tait celebrates a wicket on T20I debut // Getty

Tait would finish with 2-22 from four hostile overs, with his collection of searing yorkers and bouncers sending a frightening warning to world cricket.

"That was probably the fastest spell of bowling that I've kept to," Gilchrist said.

"Keeping to 'Taity' that day reminded me of the joy of keeping. Standing so far back and just the fun. Wondering what's coming, where it's going. Diving around and having a laugh while you're doing it."

Tait's efforts in his T20 International debut were however overshadowed by a suggestion from New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori that "questions are always asked" about the legality of bowling actions that generate extreme pace.

An outraged Tait offered to undergo ICC testing and labelled the talk over his bowling action "a disgrace" and while he returned to Australia's Test team in January that summer, he ruled himself out of the rest of the season shortly after, citing emotional and physical exhaustion.

And though he would not don his Baggy Green again, that WACA spell proved an ominous forewarning for Tait’s true calling as a cricketer; four overs of FAST bowling.

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Gilchrist is a XXXX Gold Ambassador this summer, endorsing The Goldie, a tech-enabled golden cricket cap, designed to reward fans for coming together.

There are 6000 cricket-related prizes valued at $350,000 up for grabs through the XXXX Gold app, while fans in the crowd can win $10,000 by catching a six while wearing the cap. The competition is open to over 18s only.