Stuart Clark got the better figures, 4-28 and got the best batsmen out, but the story’s about Brett Lee today. He took his 250th Test wicket, but there’s more than that.
This is Australia’s third Test since Warne and McGrath retired and every time Australia’s opponents have batted, Brett Lee’s taken four wickets. 4-26, 4-86, 4-82, 4-87 and now 4-46. It’s increasingly difficult to overlook the fact that suddenly, with infuriatingly immaculate timing, Brett Lee’s a great bowler.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that he’s always been a great bowler, but he actually hasn’t. Those 250 wickets have come at an average of over 30, which is by no means bad, but it’s a long walk from the 21.62 that Glenn McGrath boasts. It’s even inferior to Matthew Hoggard’s 247 wickets at 30.01. Matthew Hoggard’s an excellent and well-respected bowler, but people never think he’s got a better record than Lee.
It’s particularly puzzling that English people are terrified of Brett Lee. We’ve always been quite keen on seeing him turn his arm over in Ashes contests. He’s taken 62 wickets at 40 against England. That’s crap.
But those glory days look long-gone now. For some reason, at the age of 31, when pace should be beginning to desert him (and Lee’s a bowler who’s all about pace), when it seemed he might never push on after years in the Australia side, at the exact moment it was most needed, he’s come good. That’s what can happen if you invest in a player.
A lot of nations identify promising youngsters, but they get so carried away that they keep on doing it, creating a team of perpetual promise, but never the experience that should ensue. The trick is to identify the right player and STICK WITH THEM.