The Wild Thing announces retirement
Chronic elbow injury finally gets the better of Shaun Tait, who plans to stay involved in the game
27 March 2017, 11:59 AM AEST
Former Test quick and 2007 World Cup winner Shaun Tait has officially announced his retirement from the game, aged 34.
Known as The Wild Thing for his blistering pace and unconventional bowling action, Tait played three Tests and 54 limited-overs internationals for his country and was part of Australia's unbeaten campaign at the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean, which he says was the highlight of his career.
Tait holds the unofficial record for the equal second-fastest delivery ever bowled in international cricket, a 161.1km/h thunderbolt against England in 2010 that was just 0.2 km/hr slower than the all-time mark set by Pakistan's Shoaib Akhtar.
But Tait's express pace and slinging bowling action meant he was beset by injuries throughout his career; he retired from first-class cricket in 2009 and one-day internationals in 2011, but had continued to play as a T20 specialist in domestic leagues around the world, most recently for the Hobart Hurricanes in the KFC Big Bash League this summer.
But he says a chronic elbow problem that he has battled for more than a decade, and his form for the Hurricanes this summer, convinced him to call time on his 15-year career as a professional.
"I honestly wanted to play a couple more years, whether it was over in the UK or here," Tait told cricket.com.au.
"I knew it was going to be difficult getting older to compete with the young blokes. But I didn't know it was going to be as difficult as it was this year (with the Hurricanes).
"Pretty much getting left out of the side or not being able to play because of my elbow, either way there's no point going on with it.
"I knew during the Big Bash that I was going to finish up.
"The elbow has pretty much gone off a cliff now, it's done and dusted. I'm 34 years old and I suppose when you're not contributing on the field as much as you'd like to, it's time to finish up.
"It would have been nice to play another year maybe, but there's no point getting more surgery and play when I'm 35 when I'm probably not up to it anymore.
"If I was still performing really well, I'd probably do it (have surgery and keep playing). But I just wasn't.
"The game's getting quicker and better and I'm getting slower and a bit older. It's that simple."
While Tait managed just three Tests in his career, he was one of the most potent fast bowlers in the world in limited-overs cricket.
His career ODI strike rate of 27.2 balls per wicket is the second-best of any Australian bowler to have taken 50 or more wickets, behind current spearhead Mitchell Starc (24.7).
His fearsome pace was a massive weapon at domestic level with South Australia, and his haul of 8-43 in a one-day game against Tasmania in 2004 is the best-ever figures by an Australian in 50-over cricket.
But arguably his finest single performance for the Redbacks was his one-man dominance of the 2006 domestic one-day cup final, when he claimed 6-41 from 10 overs as NSW chased down a meagre target of just 155 with only one wicket to spare.
In red-ball cricket, Tait's 65-wicket haul for the Redbacks in the 2004-05 Sheffield Shield season, which propelled him into Australia's Test side, remains a state record and the second-best tally for a single season in the competition's history.
"In his prime, Shaun was the world’s fastest bowler," Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland said.
"It was incredibly exciting to watch him full flight bursting through the defences of the game’s best batsmen.
"We take this moment to applaud him for his achievements and contribution on the field and wish him well for the future."
Tait said he had made no firm decision about what his life beyond playing would entail, but said he was keen to remain in the game either in a coaching capacity or the media.
The South Australian has recently attained his Indian citizenship - his wife is Indian - which could open more doors in his post-playing career.
Having reached a conclusion during the BBL that his time was up, Tait said the transition had been smooth so far, but added it was with a heavy heart that he said farewell to the playing ranks.
"It's emotional, there's no doubt about that," he said.
"The first time when you know you're going to retire, you look back to when you first started. It seems like it was yesterday, but it's been 15 years now.
"It's probably a cliché that a lot of guys say, but just being with the lads (is what I'll miss the most).
"Being with your teammates, having a beer with your teammates in the change rooms, going away on a trip somewhere to wherever it might be.
"You don't want to be away from home all the time, but sometimes it's nice to go to India or the UK for a tournament.
"That's always one of the perks of cricket is travelling to these parts of the world, which I'll miss a bit.
"I don't want to close cricket off, that's for sure. It'd be nice to continue on in cricket somehow."
Shaun Tait - By The Numbers
Tests M: 3 | Wkts: 5 | Ave: 60.40 | SR: 82.8 | BBI: 3-97 | 5wi: 0
ODIs M: 35 | Wkts: 62 | Ave: 23.56 | SR: 27.2 | BBI: 4-39 | 5wi: 0
T20is M: 21 | Wkts: 28 | Ave: 21.03 | SR: 17.0 | BBI: 3-13 | 5wi: 0
First-class M: 50 | Wkts: 198 | Ave: 28.59 | SR: 46.7 | BBI: 7-29 | 5wi: 7
List A M: 101 | Wkts: 182 | Ave: 23.84 | SR: 27.8 | BBI: 8-43 | 5wi: 3
T20s M: 171 | Wkts: 218 | Ave: 22.43 | SR: 16.8 | BBI: 5-32 | 5wi: 1