For Brett Lee, it was all about bowling as fast as he could to watch stumps flying, make batsmen duck and hear crowd roaring.
Gets the ball in hand, scratches the crease once or twice, takes one big leap jump to mark his jumping area, then starts taking 12 steps with his eyes looking around at crowd, stadium and skies, in middle sweeping off his sweats, as he marches towards his bowling mark. Like Cheetah, he begins slowly but picks up athletically, as he closes down to the bowling crease outcomes the beautiful delivery stride jump before landing and releasing the ball effort-fully from his hand with his knees, ankles and toes sustaining a massive amount of pressure for just one ball. Consider doing it again and again for an over, an innings, a match, a series, a year and obviously for more than 12 years.
Thinking like this itself passes havoc on our mind about what will happen to our body parts. It is that much tough being a fast bowler as Brett Lee career yet again illustrates. Everyone who takes fast bowling career will be like lion when doing it but once it is done and few years down the line, he might need a stick to support him to walk.
Actually Brett career goes beyond twelve international years. He made his first class debut (in 1994/95) way before his international debut. The current Brett Lee action is modified not natural one. He underwent changes in his run-up, load-up and delivery stride before Australian team management and Steve Waugh felt that this warrior is ready for battle in 1999 boxing day test match.
Twelve years might not seem long comparing to ever lasting Tendulkar whose career stands at 23 years now. Like how every bowler has different yard stick to measure their performance, every players has different lifespan depending on their role. For an express fast bowler, 12 years is big one. The fast bowling greats such as Micheal Holding, Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson, all had career lifespan of not more than 13 years in cricket field. You must put Brett Lee in their league not because of class rather for his sheer ability to bowl fast and at same time bowl consistently at good line & length instead of spraying around.
This is not bad stats at all. A total of 718 wickets is great achievement considering Brett Lee’s injury married career. India in their whole history don’t have a bowler (with minimum 50wkts) even close to his ODI bowling average and got only few players bettering his test match average.
But is this stats alone is yardstick for measuring fast bowlers? No. Fast bowlers are often called up for impact, which the team want to make use of it. That is what exactly Steve Waugh told in his autobiography that he wanted Brett Lee badly for 1999 test series against India because “Indians will hate him”. Brett Lee is one of the core members of the Australian team that dominated the 2000′s.
As Brett Lee called his day, may finally his injuries rest. Brett Lee had ankle, toe, knee, back, elbow and shoulder problems. One such injury had kept him out for even more than a year. But he will always comeback 100% fit. Brett Lee career is lesson for all fast bowlers on how to maintain their fitness and a perfect role model. Even after into mid 30′s, Lee bowled consistently at 150 kmph. Every now and then at his fad end of his career, he launched assault over the opponents to single handily stir his team to success. Be it against England at Lords 2009 or against Pakistan in world cup or against India and Srilanka at home in CB series or even at IPL, he is always factor hard to neutralize without taking any damage.
For Lee, cricket pitch is like boxing ring where batsmens are his opponents. It is either them or he who must succeed (rarely both survived during assaults) . Inspite of this fiery display and constant hunting down of opponents (Lee has knocked down Sachin, Chanderpual, Kallis and even Dravid with his bouncer), Lee won the hearts of many fans around the world particularly in India. Lee gets raving cheer at IPL like how Sehwag or Zaheer Khan gets.
He is such a charming bowler that it was hard to ignore liking him. To bluntly put, if you don’t like him then you don’t know the art of fast bowling.