Tait may get Ashes spot
London - Australia captain Ricky Ponting said he'd be delighted to have Shaun Tait back in Ashes contention after the fast bowler's match-winning display in the fifth one-day international against England.
Tait, who according to one speed gun topped 100mph in his very first over, took four wickets for 48 runs as Australia beat England by 42 runs at Lord's here on Saturday.
It was too late to save the series, which England took 3-2, but it left many wondering what might have happened had Tait, brought in from county side Glamorgan after the second one-dayer because of Nathan Hauritz's foot injury, played from the start.
Tait, 27, played the last of his three Tests in 2008 and has been out of first-class cricket for over a year.
Instead he has concentrated on the lucrative Twenty20 format, where bowlers are restricted to a maximum four overs per match, meaning Tait reduces the risk of aggravating a shoulder injury, caused by a distinctive 'slingshot' action, which has interrupted his career.
Tait, a member of the Australia side that lost the World Twenty20 final to England in Barbados in May, had not played a one-dayer for over a year before this series and doubts remain about whether his body can stand the strain of five-day Test cricket.
But there was no denying his ability at Lord's as he sent England captain Andrew Strauss's off-stump cartwheeling back several yards with a superb inswinger to the left-handed opener.
England, chasing 278 to win, were never really in the hunt from that moment on and Ponting told reporters: "He (Tait) has been able to do that pretty much every game he has played for us for the last few years."
Asked about Tait's possible return to Test cricket, Ponting said: "I haven't spoken to him about that yet.
"I was asked the other day if I'd consider it and I certainly would but I was waiting to see how he came through these games.
"There are very few blokes in the world who can do what Shaun can and I think he showed today, even to a very good top-order batsmen like Strauss, that he can bowl a ball that can get anyone out.
"And he has the ability to do that with the red ball as well. If he has that desire and bowls as he has done here, he'll be difficult to leave out. I'll take any game he can play for us."
England begin the defence of the Ashes in Australia in November and gains from this series win had to be weighed against the fact Australia came to the UK without injured fast bowlers Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus.
"Our fast bowling stocks are pretty good right now, and when you look at who is to come back it's going to be tough for the selectors when they are all fit leading into Brisbane (for the first Ashes Test)," Ponting said.
Tait, who stressed he had not retired from first-class cricket, said a Test comeback was still some way off.
"I haven't thought about it," the South Australia speedster said.
"I was pretty excited to be called up to the one-day side, I haven't been in it for over 12 months. I haven't played a four-day game for a long time now.
"I'm in a pretty good place right now. In the last eight or nine years I've been injured in each one, apart from this season."
"To get through 10 overs (the maximum allowed in a one-dayer), let alone 20 overs a day, then come out the next morning and a second innings too -- it could work out well or work out badly."
An impressed Strauss said of Tait: "He was pretty quick and he got the ball swinging a bit as well, which makes it harder. It would certainly be up there with spells I've faced from (Pakistan's) Shoaib Akhtar and Lee."
Australia's tour continues with back-to-back Twenty20 internationals against Pakistan at Edgbaston on Monday and Tuesday.
Tait, who at Lord's had a lengthy opening spell by his recent standards, said: "It'll be nice to wind down. Four overs in a row, I was going to walk off into the showers."