Cape Town - South Australian Redback fast bowler Shaun Tait is licking his lips at the thought of bowling on South African wickets in the Airtel Champions League Twenty20 (CLT20) beginning on Friday.
Tait’s career has been plagued by injury, and in 2008, he took an indefinite break from the game because of physical and emotional exhaustion. He returned later that year, but confined himself to one-day and Twenty20 (T20) cricket, withdrawing from the longer form of the game.
Many batsmen taking part in the CLT20 will probably wish Tait had withdrawn from T20 cricket as well. Playing for Australia, Tait recently unleashed a delivery against England at Lord’s that registered 161.1kph – the second fastest delivery of all time and he plans to give the batsmen a tough time during the tournament.
“I’ve never had a chance to bowl in South Africa,” said Tait, who had to return home to Australia with a back injury sustained in net practice during the 2005/06 Australian tour of South Africa.
“But South Africa’s always traditionally been a good place to bowl quick. I think the wickets usually offer quite a bit, and some of the grounds offer altitude, where the ball reportedly travels quicker through the air. I think the fast bowlers are licking their lips.”
Tait said his decision to stay out of the longer form of the game had been the right one.
“I haven’t played a four-day match or a Test for some years now, and it’s paid dividends for my body,” he said. “I should be able to stay on the park for a good amount of time now, and Twenty20s are enjoyable.
“To play in a competition like this is a great thing, so I’m pretty happy with the decision I made.”
Tait said the CLT20 was different from the IPL, because teams from all over the world were competing against each other, and not just Indian teams with high profile international players.
“It’s a good chance for all the countries to put their best teams on the park and see how they measure up against each other.”
He said he thought the South African wickets would suit the South African and Australian teams, but an outsider would probably back one of the IPL teams to win the tournament.
“They have the big gun players,” he said. “And the Sri Lankan team are pretty talented themselves, so it’s a big raffle about who’s going to make the final.”
The Redbacks open their CLT20 campaign against the Highveld Lions at Centurion at 1.30pm on Sunday September 12, and captain Michael Klinger said that while the Lions would probably have crowd support, he thought the Redbacks had a good chance of beating them.
“We have studied them in some detail, but our game plan is to concentrate on what we do, and that has served us pretty well so far,” said Klinger.
The CLT20 extravaganza, which features 23 matches over 17 days, runs from September 10 to September 26. Tickets for CLT20 are available from Computicket. Tickets are priced from R30 to R200. Fans can also purchase tickets directly from the host venues.