Lee, blond terror with a heart of gold

Updated: 24 February 2010 16:18 IST

Brett Lee cut a fearsome figure on the cricket field but the tough demeanour masked a gentle temperament that even saw him criticised for being "too nice&q

Lee, blond terror with a heart of gold

Sydney:

Australian fast bowler Brett Lee cut a fearsome figure on the cricket field but the tough demeanour masked a gentle temperament that even saw him criticised for being "too nice".

The imposing peroxide blond, who has retired from Tests with 310 wickets, was famous for the second fastest delivery on record, a fist-pumping celebration and his merciless treatment of tailenders.

But Lee showed a softer side in 2005, when he was famously pictured being consoled by Andrew Flintoff during Australia's first Ashes series defeat in 18 years.

"My ribs were black and blue. I had a busted arm. He'd tried to kill me like I'd been trying to kill him, but straight after it all we're arm in arm," Lee said later, dismissing criticism that he was too friendly.

"Whoever won, we were going to end up in the change rooms talking about the game. We were mates. That's Test cricket."

Lee, a cricket pin-up with a large following in India, also earned sympathy for his uncomplaining fight against injuries which have kept him out of Test matches since late 2008.

"When you're trying to bowl over 155km/h for 16 years straight, it takes a lot of wear and tear on the body," he said.

"But that's the greatest thing about it, that's the thing I love -- if it was easy to do, then everyone would be running in and bowling at 155ks.

"There's a reason why there's just a handful of people in the world that can do it. It is very tough."

Lee has been beaten only by Pakistan's Shoaib Akhtar for speed after clocking 99.9 miles (160.8 kilometres) an hour at Napier in 2005.

After making his debut against India in Melbourne in December 1999, taking five wickets for 47, he has become Australia's fourth most successful Test bowler behind Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Dennis Lillee.

"Brett Lee was fantastic," Warne said Wednesday, saying that he still remembered seeing him "steaming in" to bowl during the 1999 Test.

"I thought it wasn't so much what he did, it was the way he did it," Warne said. "I thought he played in a way that was entertaining, I think people enjoyed watching him bowl."

The right-armed bowler disappointed during the 2001 Ashes series and was then struck by injuries but in 2005 he was inspired with both bat and ball despite the defeat in England.

Lee bounced back to play a leading role in Australia's 5-0 revenge win in 2006-07 and was named the 2006 Wisden magazine Cricketer of the Year before injury struck again, forcing him out of the 2007 World Cup.

In 2008, he was named Test Player of the Year but took time out following a marriage breakup and struggled for form afterwards.

Lee has never scored a first-class century with 97 runs for New South Wales his highest score, but has often played an important role with the bat for Australia with a Test average of 20.15, including five half-centuries.

The Wollongong-born Lee plans to return to India next month for the lucrative IPL Twenty20 league, having already starred in a Bollywood film and scoring on Indian charts with his song, "You're The One For Me".

Topics : Cricket Brett Lee
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