He might have gone unsold at the players' auction this year but retired Australian pacer Brett Lee on Wednesday, said he remains a huge fan of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and that the Twenty20 event could throw up the elusive fast-bowling talent that India desperately needs.
Lee, who kept his base price at Rs 2 crore, was among the most high-profile players who went unsold at the players' auction but that has not affected his admiration for the event. (Also read: Bulk of IPL 7 matches could be held in India)
"I am an immense fan of the IPL, it is improving cricket. Look, the West Indies discovered Curtly Ambrose while he was bowling in beach cricket so new talent can be found. That's where the IPL might can come in handy for the selectors. They can look at the bowlers who can bowl fast," Lee said at an event to launch travel packages for next year's World Cup slated in Australia and New Zealand.
The veteran, who played for Kolkata Knight Riders last season, was candid enough to admit that at 37, he did not see himself as a player for whom the franchisees would engage in a bidding war.
"I wanted to give it a crack and see how it goes but look, I am not getting any younger. At 37, I have had more comebacks than Rambo," he laughed when asked about his thoughts on going unsold.
The affable pacer, however, made it clear that as a bowler he preferred ODIs over Twenty20. "I still like 50-over cricket a lot. Twenty20 and IPL can be touch and go but in 50-over cricket, you can fight back. But T20 has improved batsmen," he said.
The Australian, who also unveiled the World Cup trophy here, also spoke at length about the Indian team's chances at the mega-event.
The pacer felt, it would not be easy for the Indians if they don't put together a decent pace attack.
"I think you have to look at the wicket you are playing at. Most teams which tour Australia want to have a strong pace attack. If India have good fast bowlers, they have a good chance of making the semifinals and finals," he said.
On what the Indian team needs to do to get back in form, Lee said nothing succeeds like success.
"It's funny, when you win, you breathe that confidence. It takes a lot of hard work, lot of sacrifices. It takes time. India need to get the winning habit. It can have a snowball effect.
On being asked about his thoughts on India's pace attack, Lee said the primary reason for a lack of good express bowlers is the absence of supportive pitches besides the absence of role models, who can inspire youngsters.
"A number of different things are there when you play in India. It is hard to run in full steam everytime over here. The conditions here are very different from the ones we play in. It is hard to bowl fast in the muggy conditions here. It hurts to bowl fast in India, it is hard. India have to prepare wickets where bowlers are encouraged to bowl fast," he explained.
"India are looking for a youngster to put his hand up...Trends around the world also show that a role model is needed. When a Sachin Tendulkar started, everybody wanted to be a batsman like him. When Dennis Lillee was playing, everybody wanted to be like him," Lee said.
"So, it is important to have role models, someone these youngsters can look upto, someone who can get the youngsters to run in and bowl fast," he added.
On whether the Indians are playing too much cricket, Lee seemed to agree, "It's like England, they are also playing too much cricket. Over there, it's lot of county cricket. As a fast bowler, it is difficult to pull yourself back to bowl fast all the time in such a scenario."