Why we liked Brett Lee

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2 minute read

Stop it!

Test bowling average v England: 40.61 – what’s not to like?

Yes, it’s one of those weird statistics, but Brett Lee actually wasn’t all that destructive in the Ashes. There was theatre and tension every time he came onto bowl, but all that happened was that the batsman thought: “Ooh, something’s happening here. Better sharpen up.” Maybe the adrenaline helped them cope.

Because there was adrenaline for all of us. That was Brett Lee’s main attribute: he was undeniably a fast bowler. He was skilful, yes, but pace was his defining quality. Not the half-arsed, fly-by-night, four-over pace of a Shaun Tait, either. This wasn’t gym muscles pace. It was sustained pace borne of athleticism and that weird mentality found in only true fast bowlers.

Fast bowling isn’t just about speed. It’s about scaring people. It’s about looking like you’re genuinely trying to hurt them and sometimes succeeding. It’s also about sacrificing your own body to achieve that aim. Fast bowlers have a primal blood lust that monopolises their minds and all other thoughts and considerations cease to exist when they run in to bowl.

Fast bowling is amazing. Simply handing the ball to someone like Brett Lee in the middle of a sleepy afternoon session is enough for people to put the newspaper down and start watching. Fast bowlers bring corners and U-turns to predictable narrative, so you HAVE to pay attention.

If you can be a fast bowler, provide all of that and yet not actually do all that much to help Australia win the Ashes, you are absolute gold.


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  1. 18 needed now

    Lee to Flintoff, OUT, Full, fast, furious and this game is not done yet! The perfect delivery, pitches outside the off, moves in off the seam and knocks the top of the off stump!

    A Flintoff b Lee 26 (63m 34b 3×4 0x6) SR: 76.47

    Take a bow Brett Lee, that is a top effort on a rather flat deck at a crucial time. What a big wicket. Ponting could not ask for more! Giles is the new batsman The tension is palpable now.

    1. Trent Bridge, Sunday 28 August 2005. My birthday. My mother phones me at Daisy’s place about 90 seconds before the moment Bert describes.

      “You sound a little distracted”, says mum.

      “Yes mum, I’m watching the Ashes, that’s crick-NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!”

      “Call me back later when your feeling better dear,” said mum.

      An unforgettable moment.

      Daisy’s no better at coping with the tension – she had to leave the room once it was down to Giles and Hoggard.

      Lee was indeed a vital part of that miraculous summer that was 2005 in many ways. The tied ODI final at Lord’s that year – I was there, folks, I was there. So was Daisy and she had no place to hide for that nail-biter.

      Thanks Brett Lee for those memories. And thanks Bert for jogging them.

    2. I was with Daisy that day. Not actually, you understand, just figuratively. I walked out of the house before the bails had landed, into the woods behind my dad’s house. One hour of solitude and no cricket, then back to find that we’d won. It was the only way I could manage.

      This was (with hindsight) one of the great moments of that summer, and thus by extension of any summer. Lee stood there mid-pitch with his arms raised, chest out, in absolute adrenaline-fueled glory. His average meant nothing that day. He had the firepower, and he used it. At that moment he was the best bowler that had ever played the game. He was scaring me witless – god knows how the batsmen coped. He wasn’t the best bowler ever, but that spell defined fast bowling for me. He might have gone for a few before, but he was on a mission to change the match.

    3. I took a whole day off work (skived that is) expressly to watch the chase only to not be able to watch from the moment Trescothick got out…

      Some would call that a waste of a day – I don’t.

  2. Brett Lee, has always been a sensation, I remember in his early days when Australian team started flourishing again after 1999 world cup victory. Lee’s addition to the Australians was a big edge to them. People will miss him surely!

  3. If you can go through ten years hurling a sphere at ninety miles an hour at people occasionally making them fall flat on the ground wincing in pain and yet retire as someone who it is impossible to hate, you’ve gotto be something special.

    Thanks for the memories Bret!

  4. Whatever happened to Brett’s brother, Shane Lee? At one stage he was becoming a fixture in the Aussie ODI team. One look at his Cricinfo profile suggests the answer to that question is “he got fat”

  5. One of my favourite bowlers! Was very conflicted when he got injured just before the 2009 ashes: It deprived us of seeing him in his utterly destructive prime (going on his form the previous 2 years), but on the other hand it deprived us of seeing him in his potentially ashes winning prime…

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