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There have been talks that cricket is losing the high standard it used to have and the department which is suffering the most is the fast bowling. And with Brett Lee announcing his retirement from international cricket, the problem has just aggravated.
However Lee’s retirement has not come as a surprise. What was surprising was grit and determination of the speedster who continued playing for long despite the innumerable injuries he suffered in 13-year long career. Brett Lee suffered all the injuries that a bowler could bear. He had elbow operation, side strains, stress fractures, ankle injuries and even a broken foot. Lee missed many series but over the years he made sure that he gave his hundred per cent whenever he played. The best thing about Lee’s bowling was that despite so many injuries he never compromised with his pace and continued rattling the opposition.
Lee made his debut against the Indians in 1999 Test series. A lot of hype was created when he was about to get his first Test cap as he was going to be one of the world’s fastest bowlers and Lee did not disappoint. He took a five-wicket haul in his first Test match and went on to pick 42 wickets in his first seven Test matches to announce his arrival in the international circuit. In the initial part of his career, Lee acted as a supporting bowler for the deadly duo of McGrath and Gillespie, but soon started spearheading the attack.
Lee’s Test match record is good with 310 wickets from the 76 matches that he played, but it is one-dayers that set him apart. Lee with 380 wickets finished as a joint-highest ODI wicket-taker for Australia along with Glenn McGrath.
Lee, who retired from Test cricket in 2010, has seen a lot of highs in Test matches as well, none beating his dream run that he had just after McGrath’s retirement. Lee ensured that Australia did not miss the services of the great man and helped Australia in their rebuilding process. Lee took 58 wickets at an average of 21 in nine Test matches that Australia played after ‘Pigeon’s’ retirement.
Talking about Lee’s one-day career, he was the man behind Australia’s unbeaten run in the 2003 World Cup where he finished as the second highest wicket taker. His strike-rate in ODI’s is also phenomenal and at 29.4 is only second to Shane Bond’s 20.88, but Lee played almost thrice the number of the matches.
Another remarkable achievement that Lee has is that his 297 victims have come in the winning cause and that implies his match-winning abilities.
Lee was more than handy with the bat as well. His Test match average with the bat is a solid 20 and he has five fifties to his name. None can forget his heroics Edgbaston Test match in 2005 Ashes where he nearly won the match for Australia.
He scored his one-day runs with a very good strike-rate of 84 and has provided Australia late bursts on numerous occasions.
Lee, who will continue playing Big Bash and Indian Premier League, said that a loss of desire to compete at the international level is the main reason for his retirement. And the man, who has always put his country ahead of himself, did not feel that it was fair for him to continue playing when he lacks the desire.
A perfect gentleman off the field, he will always be remembered for his huge celebrations and his healthy rivalry with Pakistani speedster Shoaib Akhtar will always be missed on the cricket field.
By Gaurav Jha
Indian Sports News Network