Sydney: Fast bowler Brett Lee will miss the Ansett Australia Boxing Day Test match in Melbourne and the Ansett Australia Centenary of Federation Test match in Sydney. The decision to rest Lee was taken following a clinical assessment of his back by Australian team doctor Trefor James and physiotherapist Errol Alcott on Saturday afternoon, according to an official press release from the Australian Cricket Board. However, his condition - bony stress in the lower left part of the spine - has shown significant improvement in the three weeks since it was diagnosed. And, as such, there is a high degree of optimism Lee will be fit for the Carlton Series of One-day Internationals that follow the Ansett Australia Test series against the West Indies. Dr James and Alcott examined Lee's spinal movement, conducted a soft tissue assessment and vertebral pressures and checked out his flexibility. The results of those tests indicated a significant improvement in the fast bowler's condition. He will be re-assessed following the Ansett Australia Centenary of Federation Test match in Sydney and the hope is that with further rest and rehabilitation over the coming weeks Lee could be cleared to resume his international career in the very near future. Australian team physiotherapist Errol Alcott said, "We were very happy with the progress Brett has made but with an injury of this type there is no point in rushing him back. "Brett has spent most of the last three weeks resting but the improvement he has shown means he can now increase his physical training programme, including running and swimming. "That means he will be able to regain any fitness he has lost pretty quickly so that when we give him the all-clear and he will be in a good position to resume bowling sooner rather than later." Brett Lee said, "The results of the tests I went through were very positive and I'm happy with my progress. It's obviously frustrating to be sidelined but I know it's in my best interests not to rush back with so much cricket coming up, including tours of India and the UK after our domestic season. "I'm looking on this as a short-term loss for a long term gain and I'm very confident I'll be back for the Carlton Series against the West Indies and Zimbabwe," he added. Lee missed the Third Ansett Australia Test match against the West Indies in Adelaide after his back injury was diagnosed following outstanding individual performances in the first two matches of the series in Brisbane and Perth. The New South Wales fast bowler claimed 11 wickets in those two matches, and also made scores of 62 not out - his first Test 50 - and 41 not out in successive innings wins. Australia's other injury doubt for the Ansett Australia Boxing Day Test match, captain Stephen Waugh, will continue to be assessed on an ongoing basis after missing the Adelaide Test match with a damaged left buttock. Australia lead the five-match series against the West Indies 3-0 and has retained the Frank Worrell Trophy.
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