Tait frontrunner for Ashes fifith paceman slot

Published: Sunday, April 3, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney:South Australian quickie Shaun Tait has emerged as a frontrunner for the fifth paceman's slot when the Australian selectors assemble on Tuesday to pick the squad for the Ashes series.

The Trevor Hohns-headed selection committee would have a hard time picking the fifth paceman for the tour as several others are also in the hunt having fared exceedingly well in the Aussies domestic circuit.

A right-arm bowler, Tait looks well set to grab the prized fith pace bowler slot after snaffling a record-breaking 65 scalps at an average of 20.16 in the Pura Cup season.

New South Wales left-armer Nathan Bracken is also in contention for a place in the side. The left-armer who was unimpressive when he last played in a three Test series in 2003-04 has come up in leaps and bounds ever after his stint with Gloucester and is a much-improved bowler.

Bracken, who has been backed by former Australian captain Steve Waugh to tour England, has been rich vein of form in the domestic circuit. His magnificent domestic performances such as his 7-4 against South Australia and his 6-27 and 2-54 in the Cup final should stand him in good stead for a Test recall.

Victorian fast bowler Mick Lewis who snared 38 scalps in the Pura Cup and was recently picked in the Australia 'A' side is a dark horse.

Of all the three, the performance of Tait would be extremely difficult for the selectors to ignore. If the selectors are hell-bent on adding some variety to their attack, then Nathan Bracken's chances are quite bright as his left-arm swing could lend some more teeth to their attack.

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