Saturday, 14 July 2012



Brett Lee looks out at the SCG after announcing his retirement from international cricket.

When Brett Lee limped off the field during his third over in fourth ODI vs England at Durham, most people expected it to be just another injury in the fast bowler’s 13-year long career. As one of the fastest bowlers in world cricket, Lee has been no stranger to injuries, five ankle operations, elbow surgery, back stress fractures, side strains, muscle strains and broken bones. He has always come back strongly every time he has been laid low. But this time, it was not so. The calf muscle he pulled up during his run up turned out to be the last injury his body could take, and those 2.2 overs he bowled turned out to be to be the last he bowled in international cricket. He returned home to Sydney this week and on Friday the 13th of July, he announced his retirement from international cricket.

Though not entirely unexpected, I can’t pretend the news did not sadden me. There is always a void left in a cricket follower’s world when the curtains fall on a great career, especially when he is one of your favorites. There is a certain sense of despair just at the thought that you won’t get to see him don his national colors and play on field again. I have already endured one such heartbreak in March when Rahul Dravid called it quits. And when I heard of Brett Lee’s retirement early morning on Friday, it was the same feeling all over again.

Brett Lee has been one of my favorite cricketers from a long time. He was the first foreign player I liked and non least because of his off field persona. In fact it would be fair to say that Lee has the distinction of being the most loved foreign cricketers in India - maybe for his looks, music, Bollywood appearances or brand endorsements. But the main reason I liked Brett Lee was his art – fast bowling. As a young kid beginning to follow cricket, it was some sight to see a blond, strapping guy running in hard and bowling down the ball at the speed of a rocket! The sheer adrenaline rush I got, just by watching him bowl, was something. I have never had the chance to watch Dennis Lillee, Curtly Ambrose bowl live, so watching him was the first time I experienced express pace bowling. Admittedly there was Shoaib Akhtar, but then again he lacked the charm (and the looks) that Binga was blessed with! And as I grew up and became a teen, I have to admit that o began liking him for an altogether new reason. And Brett Lee had the honour of being my first major cricket crush! (Tongue-firmly-in-cheek) The following is an excerpt from something I wrote years back when asked to write about her dream (don’t  judge me, I was only a kid when I wrote this!)– “. She worshiped, respected, loved, admired a lot of cricketers, but she was crazy about only one – blonde Australian fast bowler who hurled in his deliveries at 150k, drew blood or a wicket and then celebrated by doing a wild windmill-airplane or cycle-pump dance.”

It didn’t matter that he was Australian and that more times than none, he performed well against India and was destructor-in-chief when we lost. He was such a visually pleasing bowler that I remember watching Australia’s matches only to watch him bowl. There is one match in particular that I would like to mention – Australia vs Sri Lanka at the 2003 World Cup. For those who recollect that one, Brett lee fired in a delivery at around 160k and decimated Marvan Attapattu’s stumps. That looked crazy, and the celebration was even more insane. That was the kind of bowler he was – dangerously fast and accurate, when on song, the opposition batsmen had to be terrified.

For a fast bowler, especially someone who looks to run hard and bowl every delivery at the highest possible speed, it is phenomenal to have had a 13-year long career. He made his Test debut vs India in 1999 in the Boxing Day Test (scalping a fifer and running through the Indian batting order) and his ODI debut soon after. Most are of the opinion that he was a much better bowler in ODIs than in Tests, but to have more than 300 Test wickets in an era when the Australian Test team had the best quality of players is to say something, right? To make a mark as an Aussie bowler alongside the likes of Glenn Mcgrath, Jason Gillespie, Michael Kasprowicz is no mean feat. And for a guy who grew up on a farm in Wollongong, had to drive for miles early morning to reach practice and battle excruciatingly painful injuries at the start of his career, it is remarkable what he has achieved. A World Cup victory in which he was instrumental, Ashes, Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Allan Border Medal, a hat-trick in ODIs and T20Is (the first man to do so) – he has had a gloriously successful career. Probably the only complain is that he has 380 ODI wickets, one short of claiming the record for Australia’s highest wicket-taker. But this too shows the kind of man he is, leaving even though there is a limestone approaching. As an express quickie, one thing that struck me about him was his affability. He would sledge and intimidate off the batsmen when he was bowling, typical Aussie thing to do, but otherwise, he would be always smiling and exchanging banter with his team mates and sometimes the opposition. Brett has probably drawn more blood from batsman than any other bowler, but I doubt a single player would call him a mean guy, such was his personality on field.

I am one the lucky ones who has had the opportunity to interact with Brett on a regular basis over the last year. And all I can say is that the praise that flown in for him, from past and present cricketers, is all justified. He is a genuine likeable person and his dedication to the game is immense. I have seen him play through pain, with broken bones and on pain-killers. I can’t imagine how tough it must be for a 35-year old to still bowl at 150k despite all the obstacles, but he has still done it and given his 100% every single time. Resilience is the one quality I would associate the most with him, coming back strongly after every injury, without dropping his pace or intensity. . His sheer passion and knowledge of cricket reflects in the way he talks and I have learned a lot about cricket just by talking to him. Now that I have met and interacted with him, my impression of him as kid has been reinforced even further. Brett Lee is an asset to the game and we will surely miss watching him bowl in international cricket.


  1. Lovely piece Ziny ! Keep up the good work..your passion inspires me ! :D

  2. Yeah, Lee was surely a great bowler whom every cricket lover would miss in future. We can see him in T20 matches though.