Brett Lee retires: Ferocity will never be the same again
When Brett Lee limped off the field during his third over in the fourth ODI against 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 and has 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 final overs he would bowl in international cricket. Lee returned home to Sydney this week and on Friday the 13th of July, he announced his retirement from international cricket.
Ever since Brett Lee donned the Australian colours in 1999, he started gaining the reputation of being fearsome, dangerous and one of the fastest bowlers in world cricket. Regularly clocking at 150 kmph and above, Lee emerged as a sensation and went on to become his team’s spearhead for most part of his illustrious career. One of the best phases of his career came in the 2003 World Cup, where he finished the tournament with 22 wickets. Lee also became the first bowler to take a hat-trick in Twenty20 Internationals. He even has an ODI hat-trick to his name.
Lee, who is also a Castrol ambassador, in many ways embodied the concept of Bowling Efficiency – a key factor of the Castrol Index. He was one of the swiftest wicket-takers, as is proved by his strike rate of 29, while keeping the run rate in check. He was particularly a force to reckon with at the start of the match and it is fair to say that he was one of the most lethal bowlers in the Quick Start Overs. With his pace, accuracy and ability to bowl beamers at will, he was considered to be one of the best pace bowlers for over a decade in limited overs cricket. His numbers speak for themselves. In 221 ODIs, he has taken 380 scalps, just one short of Glenn McGrath’s record for the highest number of wickets. With an economy of 4.76 and an average of 23.36, he was undoubtedly one of the greats of the game. In T20Is, he had 28 wickets from 25 matches with a best of 3/23.
This is what Castrol Ambassador Harsha Bhogle had to say about Lee hanging his boots, “For someone who ran in and bowled hard and fast, 13 years is a long career to have. To take 300 plus Test and ODI wickets, when his body was being subjected to such a lot because of injuries, is quite an achievement.”
Bhogle reminisced about the first time he saw Lee bowl during his debut Test series against India in 1999. “What a sight it was to watch him bowl! The feeling you get when you watch a fast bowler who is at the top of his game and bowling in rhythm is one of the great sights of the game.” The cricket commentator also agrees that the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup was the best period of the speedster’s cricketing career. And with 22 wickets in the tournament, he played a huge role in Australia’s successful World Cup campaign.
Apart from cricket, the one quality about him that struck Bhogle the most was Lee’s humility. “He remembers the man who helped him when he was an Under-19 player and continued working at his shop as a suit salesman even after he became a Test player. That says a lot about the character of a person.”
He revolutionized the art of pace bowling and will always be remembered as the lethal bowler with a sparkling smile. All of us at CastrolCricket.com wish Brett Lee good luck on the road ahead.