Shame for Brett Lee

There was a feeling of disappointment mixed with inevitability for me at the announcement of Brett Lee’s retirement from Test cricket.

For me, Brett Lee epitomized what playing and watching Test cricket is all about, he played good hard, aggresive, fair, competitive cricket, always with a smile on his face, and always in the right spirit. Whenever he ran in, he always did so with total commitment.

I watched a bit of his last Test against South Africa in December 2008, when he showed immense (sporting) courage, while attempting to run in as hard and fast as he could with a broken foot in a vain effort to help Australia in a lost cause.

At the time you couldn’t help but think what damage is he doing to himself in the long run? He wasn’t thinking of himself though, and did the best he could for his team and country, as he always did.

As we now see, Lee has decided to go with the limited overs formula in a similar way to Andrew Flintoff. I don’t blame him for his decision, as I don’t blame Flintoff either. After years of putting their bodies on the line, I don’t see why they both shouldn’t cash in while they still can.

It would be fair to say that both (at times) have had serious doubts over the last 6-9 months whether they would ever play competitive cricket again, either of them could potentially be one game away from their last, so make hay, or cash, while you still can.

With the current demands of international cricket it is hard to envisage too many more Brett Lee’s coming through and maintaining a high standard for 10 years, as Lee has done. If we are lucky enough to see bowlers of his pace and class, the chances are that their lifespan in the sport will be very short lived, such is the current schedules.

At the age of 33 it seems very young for Lee to be giving up the 5 day game, will it act as a wake up call to the treasurers at the ICC though? Bond and Flintoff are already gone, and we are seeing Dale Steyn bowling flat out in Tests, 50 over matches and T20’s, how long is he going to be able to keep that up for?

We can only hope that common sense prevails somewhere within the ICC and that the current levels of cricket being played is addressed, also the batsmen friendly pitches that put further strains on the fast bowlers needs to be sorted out too.

If they choose to ignore this and do nothing, then I fear that the art of fast bowling will become an even more rare sight.

Brett Lee hopes for Headingley return

Brett Lee talked up his propects in a bid to convince all that he is ready for the 4th test starting on Friday, what he thinks of Shane Watson’s remarks on Wednesday is another thing. Who needs opposition enemy with a team mate who questions whether you are ready to retake your place in the side in the manner in which Watson did yesterday.

Brett Lee has stepped up his bowling in the nets and on Wednesday bowled a hostile spell for more than an hour after which he claimed was at full pace. He also said that he has now bowled for 8 days straight and when asked if he felt fit to play gave a firm positive answer “yes, 100%”.

He apparently seemed very bullish and confident in his ability to last five days and seemed to be trying to send a blunt and positive message to the Aussie tour management that he is now ready and expects to be selected.

Quite how happy he would have been with Shane Watson’s input at a press conference yesterday is debatable. When you are trying to convince the management you are fit and ready to go the last thing you want to hear is one of your team mates questioning this by telling anyone who will listen that in his opinion you probably aren’t ready to play.

Watson said “Obviously he’s still maybe a game away to get under his belt before he might be in calculation for selection, but it’s great to see him out there firing.” perhaps referring to the 2 day England Lions match at Canterbury on 15 & 16 August.

Maybe Watson is not the sharpest tool in the box – the wording of that particular sentence might back up that theory – and just got his words jumbled up, or maybe there is a more sinister approach and he feels the selectors might go with 5 bowlers and that if they do his position will be under pressure as they would have to leave a batsman out, going on Watson’s brief but entertaining bowl at Edgbaston you wouldn’t select him for his bowling.

Surely this could only be a prospect if they go to The Oval still 1-0 down. Either way Lee can’t have been too impressed.