Australian pace supremo, Brett Lee has finally made the much speculated announcement and thereby hanging up his whites. Brett Lee who is Australia's fourth highest wicket taker had suffered from a left fractured leg, which required two surgeries and a side strain that kept him sidelined for most part of 2009 announced that his body couldn't cope up with international test cricket and announced his retirememnt today. He told Channel Seven "I'm not 21, I'm 33; Trying to bowl at 150kph for five days is very hard on the body." This brings an end to the test career of one of Australia's most reputed pace bowler who rejuvenated the art of fast bowling in the modern era.
Brett 'Binga' Lee was a promising youngster from NSW who made a dashing entry into test cricket at the age of 23 when he took a five wicket haul in the first innings against the touring Indian team. Lee ended the match with 7 wickets and helped Australia to a 180 run victory. Brett Lee was a typical pace bowler, who had tons of pace, the perfect out-swinger, the vicious yorker, well disguised slower ball and plenty of raw energy combined with the will to succeed. As his career progressed, Lee will add to his armoury a wicked off-cutter, a deadly bouncer and a nagging off-stump line (that he learned well from McGrath). Added to this the young pacer from Wollongong, had a dashing smile, a perfect jump for joy celebration and a variety of hair styles, making him one of the most charismatic and sought after bowler. He was the perfect pin up poster boy who never backed away from the lens. He was also an ideal ambassador of the game, who played the game in the true spirit and was a gentleman who never found his shirt dirty with controversies. He has also acted in a Bollywood movie and plays bass guitar for the band, 'Six and Out'. Lee is a rock star cult figure, and a fast and furious quick bowler who made the world love and adore him.
Lee spent much of his days wearing the baggy green under the shadows of Glenn McGrath and Jason Gilespie, but still Lee managed to carve an image for himself and asserted himself as one of the best fast bowlers the world has seen. Brett Lee has 310 test scalps in 76 matches. He has an incredible bowling average of just over thirty (30.81) with ten five wicket hauls to his name.
Lee was a bowler that every captain would love to have. A player who gave hundred percent in anything he did, he was more than a skipper could ask for. He was extremely fit could bowl long spells and still sustain his high pace. He ran in hard every time and was always sniffing around like a hunter near his prey's home. He made the best of batsmen look very ordinary and was ruthless in cleaning the tail. Lee was also a dynamite in the field who will dash some fifty meters and put in a dive just to save a single run - that too after just completing a long spell under hot and humid conditions. Lee was that kind of bloke whose commitment to his team can never be questioned. He was simple, modest and also very down to Earth kind of person who made plenty of friends all over the globe. He was a highly respected player in the Aussie team who would voice his thoughts in team meetings without faltering and an equally respected opponent by those whom he played against.
Lee, took over the role of Australia's senior most bowler and also the role of their strike bowler after McGrath retired. He was true mentor and lead the Aussie pace attack sans Mcgrath and Warne with great grit. He made a mediocre Australian bowling bear some teeth and as the Australian dominance in test cricket started to wane, Lee showed that Australia was still a side that was to reckon with. I feel that one of the reasons of Australia's loss of the Ashes last year was due to the absence of Lee. After the retirements of many Australian greats, the team looked week, but nevertheless with Lee in the side, Australia were almost the same invincible group in the late nineties and early twenty first century, but without him, they were a very average side. The current Aussie team has plenty of youngsters in the bowling line up and Lee was instrumental in bringing them and grooming them.
Sadly, this roaring warrior couldn't finish what would have been an outstanding career due to injuries, but having said that Lee will look back at his career and his journey with the baggy green as an highly satisfying one. Shane Lee's brother will be missed sorely not only by the Australians but also by every cricket fan around the globe.
Note - I would like to thank Sarah Ansell for letting me use her photos. All the above pictures were clicked by her. You can find more pictures at SarahCanterbury.
Notes about the photos -
England Lions v Australia, Canterbury, 16 August 2009 © Sarah Ansell