Brett Lee announces retirement from Test cricket

By Rhys Hayward
Brett Lee

Brett Lee (Photo: Wayne McLean)

After months of speculation Brett Lee has announced his retirement from Test cricket as the ferocity of the modern game claims yet another victim.

Ferocity is a word you could often ascribe to Lee. At his best only the freak of nature that is Shoaib Akhtar could match the blond bombshell for pace and though he was almost inevitably overshadowed by McGrath, Gillespie and Warne in the great Australian teams of the turn of the century, there is little shame in that.

Indeed, with arguably the most metronomic duo in the history of the game hogging the overs for most of his career, the very fact that Lee managed to take 310 wickets in his 76 appearances speaks volumes for his destructive abilities.

As with most skiddy, attacking fast bowlers Lee could often be a tad expensive but it was more than compensated for by his relentless, boundless energy and above all, speed. As a sport, cricket has a surprising dearth of natural athletes but Lee truly bucked the trend.

The sight of the New South Welshman at his best was simply awesome. With a bouncing, fluid run up and high, open-chested action the ball would be propelled towards a cowing at a seemingly supersonic pace. When he was at his best it was the added ingredient of late swing which baffled batsmen the world over but even without it his speed could be too much.

For us English fans, Lee will of course be remembered for one series. Whilst McGrath busied himself falling over stray balls in practice and Gillespie had a very public crisis of confidence, Lee shed his image of a preening, Bondi showboat and proved himself both a gentleman and a bowler capable of leading a besieged attack.

Whilst the likes of Ponting and Katich were clearly affected by the torment of the English crowds, Lee revelled in it, effortlessly living up to the pantomime villain status he was given. And his villainy almost stretched beyond pantomime status. As England limped towards their target of 129 it was Lee, who along with Warne threatened to spoil England party taking 3-51 in a ferocious spell which claimed the wickets of Pietersen and Flintoff, the latter clean bowled with by a simply unplayable delivery.

And then there was Edgbaston; the greatest test and the games most iconic image of a distraught Lee, crouched down at the non-striker’s end as Andrew Flintoff bends down to offer him a consoling arm. Whatever Lee goes on to achieve in the remainder of his limited-overs career — and we can only hope that his body allows him to take advantage of the T20 boom for a few more years yet — his image is forever etched into cricketing infamy.

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