Physical, mental toll forces break
Jon Pierik and Richard Earle
January 30, 2008 12:00am
SHAUN Tait kept a brave face for months as he fought the inner demons that have left his cricket career in the balance.
Friends and teammates were yesterday shocked to learn the Australian fast bowler has pulled out of the sport he loves for an indefinite period after succumbing to a mental and physical breakdown on Monday.
A salt-of-the-earth character from Nairne in the Adelaide Hills, Tait, 24, has struggled to deal with unfulfilled expectations of being Australia's fast-bowling hope and the pressures that come with being marketed by Cricket Australia.
He has also endured an injury-plagued career because of a bowling action that puts tremendous stress on his body.
Tait said he was stepping away from the game to refresh his mind and body.
"This is a very difficult situation for me to be in at this time. This is not an overnight decision but something that I've been struggling with for some time," he said yesterday.
"A break from professional cricket will hopefully give me a clear mind and a chance for my body to rest and recover.
"My love and enjoyment of the game is struggling due to these issues and if I continue to go on, it will be unfair on my teammates and support staff of both the Australian and South Australian cricket teams and, most importantly, my family and close friends."
Tait played a one-dayer for South Australia on Sunday, claiming 3-57 in 10 overs against Victoria in Traralgon, but his failed return to Test cricket in Perth a fortnight ago is believed to have forced his decision.
In only his third Test, Tait was wicketless and under-used by skipper Ricky Ponting, who juggled four pacemen.
Tait had gone into the match against India declaring he would break cricket's 160km/h speed record, but he fell well short.
Ponting waited until shortly before lunch on the first morning to finally introduce Tait into the attack, but by then his confidence was sapped.
The captain appeared to lose confidence in Tait in India's second innings, giving him just eight overs.
After the Test, Ponting said Tait was still in the frame for his home Adelaide Test, which some felt was a move to keep up his spirits.
South Australian teammate Mark Cosgrove was shocked by the news.
"He looked fine on Sunday. He took three wickets and bowled fast. I had no idea there was any problem," Cosgrove said.
CA medical officer Trefor James said Tait may not have coped with being in the public eye.
"People sometimes underestimate the stress of the cumulative effects of the pressure to perform on the field and off the field," James said.
"After discussions with Shaun and the South Australian Cricket Association medical staff, it is clear Shaun needs a break from cricket at all levels.
"Shaun's personal welfare is our primary concern, as well as his return to cricket at an appropriate point."
SACA medical officer Terry Farquharson said injuries had taken a toll on the man who played a key role in Australia's surge to World Cup glory last year, with 23 wickets at 20.30.
"Shaun has experienced recurrent injuries since 2005, with a shoulder injury and elbow injury both requiring surgery, as well as suffering intermittent low back and hamstring injuries," Farquharson said.
"The combination of his injury history and the demands of being an elite professional cricketer has affected his physical and, significantly, his emotional well-being."
It's very sad to happen to such a talented young bloke. I am a huge tait fan, and I genuinely hope he recovers. More and more men are at least coming to terms with illness' which previously they either didn't recognise or wouldn't disclose and suffer in silence. So much great information out there for this now, glad he is addressing it.
Get well shaun.
Injury is many kinds e.g. Physical, Mental etc. so, You know very important Injury is Mentally. because Physically Injury show for all but Mentally Injury difficult for a man.