July 13, 2012
Australianism means where the ‘impossible’ is within the realm of what the human body can do, there are Australians who believe that they can do it – and who have succeeded often enough to make us wonder if anything is impossible at all. If there is a person who fits this definition of Australianism coined by the famous English commentator John Arlott, it is Brett Lee.
Lee typified the Australian approach to bowling. High speed, supreme athleticism, never-say-die attitude and a fiery persona all made this cricketer from Woolongong, New South Wales a treat to watch on the cricket field. Age never seemed to diminish Lee’s pace and neither did it dull his wilingness to put in 100% each time he went there. However, as it happens with every fast bowler, injuries did play a huge role in his playing career. This workload forced Lee to retire from Tests after 2008, but he continued to give his all in ODIs and T20Is. The calf injury during Australia’s on-going ODI series against England was too much for Lee to handle and he announced his retirement from all forms of the game. We take a look back at some of his magical spells in ODI cricket.
1.) 5/27 versus India, Adelaide Oval, 2000 Carlton & United tri-series league match (Scorecard link: http://www.cricbuzz.com/cricket-scorecard-archives/scorecard/australia-v-india-26-jan-2000/5713)
Brett Lee’s best performances in ODIs have come against India. After a sparkling Test debut against them at Melbourne in 1999 where he picked up five wickets, Lee continued his mojo in the ODI series as well. On Australia day, the team gave the home fans a treat by notching up 329/5 with Mark Waugh scoring a century. Lee gave them further cheer when he dismissed Sachin Tendulkar cheaply and proceeded to dismantle the Indian middle order. His haul of 5/27 helped Australia defeat India by a whopping 152 runs. This established a love affair with India that lasted for a long time. In 32 ODIs against India, he snapped up five wickets four times.
2.) 5/30 versus England, Melbourne, 2002 VB Tri-series final (Scorecard link: http://www.cricbuzz.com/cricket-scorecard-archives/scorecard/australia-v-england-25-jan-2003/5327)
The Australian team were at the height of their powers during this period. The old enemy were traumatized into submission and Lee played a huge role. England were soundly thrashed in the first final of the VB series in 2002. Heading into Melbourne, they had suffered 12 consecutive ODI defeats against Australia but gave themselves a good chance for victory when they restricted Australia to 229. England were nicely positioned at 216/6 in the 47th over. However, in the space of two overs, Lee picked up three quick wicket which gave victory to Australia by five runs. This was the classic case of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory and they won the best of three finals 2-0.
3.) 5/42 versus New Zealand, Port Elizabeth, 2003 World Cup Super Six match (Scorecard link: http://www.cricbuzz.com/cricket-scorecard-archives/scorecard/australia-v-new-zealand-11-mar-2003/5366)
The battle of pace between Shane Bond and Brett Lee provided the preview to this mouth-watering clash between the Trans-Tasman rivals. Having beaten Australia in four out of the six ODIs prior to this encounter, the Kiwis were bristling with confidence. Bond seemed to have had the first laugh when he blitzed the Australians with a fiery spell of 6/23. If New Zealand visualized another win, then they were brought crashing back down to earth thanks to a brutal spell from Lee. After starting off expensively, he came back in his second spell with vengence and snapped up five wickets in 15 balls. Bowling at pace and with acccuracy, the New Zealand lower order were like lambs to the slaughter as Australia raced to victory. Bond had won the battle, but Lee had won the war. Australia went on to win the World Cup without losing a match and Lee finished the tournament as the second highest wicket taker with 22 wickets.
4.) 4/28 versus Pakistan, Colombo, 2011 World Cup League match (Scorecard link: http://www.cricbuzz.com/cricket-scorecard-archives/scorecard/australia-v-pakistan-19-mar-2011/2206)
Age proved to be no deterrent to Lee’s pace. In the 2011 match in Colombo, Pakistan felt the full fury of Lee’s pace. After being bundled out for 176, Lee gave Australia some hope with his hostile pace and bounce. He snapped up the top four to leave Pakistan reeling at 98/4, but some calm batting from Asad Shafiq and Umar Akmal gave Pakistan victory by four wickets. It was a tragically beautiful spell from Lee as his other bowling partners failed to sustain pressure. This was Australia’s first loss in 35 games at the World Cup.
5.) 3/5 versus New Zealand, Auckland, 2005 Chappell-Hadlee series (Scorecard link: http://www.cricbuzz.com/cricket-scorecard-archives/scorecard/new-zealand-v-australia-03-dec-2005/4218)
One of the least-talked about spells in Lee’s career. At Eden Park, Lee gave one of the most dazzling displays of fast bowling ever. On a pitch with variable bounce, Lee ripped the top order apart with pace and deadly accuracy. He never looked like conceding any runs and in combination with Nathan Bracken and Stuart Clark, Australia routed the Kiwis by a big margin. In Lee’s final analysis of 6-4-5-3, three of the runs were conceded through wides.