WC 2003 - Its Lee vs Bond in the live-wire Aussie-Kiwi encounter
Published: Sunday, March 9, 2003, 23:00 [IST]
Copyright AFP 2001
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Bloemfontein: Two of the fastest bowlers at the World Cup will go head to head when reigning champions Australia takes on New Zealand in its Super Six match at Port Elizabeth on Tuesday. Australia's Brett Lee has been making waves by threatening the 100mph barrier but in Shane Bond New Zealand has, for the first time in its history, an express quick of its own.Throughout cricket history the fast men have been valued not just for their ability to take wickets, but for how they can intimidate the opposition.Australia captain Ricky Ponting is well aware of Lee's capacity to test batsmen's physical courage and, after employing his pace to target Sri Lanka captain Sanath Jayasuriya, is threatening to use him in the same away against Kiwi captain Stephen Fleming.Lee, 26, had the good fortune to come into a team already regarded as the best in the world. While pace colleagues Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie had tormented international batsmen for several years previously with their accuracy and movement, Lee's raw pace gave the Australia attack a new dimension.His on-field aggression quickly made Lee a crowd favourite although, like many out-and-out quicks he initially struggled with his accuracy. His waywardness prompted many pundits to consider him a liability for One-day cricket. However, Australia, because of its powerful batting line-up, is more concerned about taking wickets then saving runs and it has decided Lee was worth the risk.With the injured Gillespie out of the tournament there is now a greater responsibility upon Lee, who can sometimes give the impression he is more interested in sheer speed than shattering stumps.However, giving up beer for 12 months in a bid to cut down his chances of getting injured, suggests he can be disciplined when he wants to be. Discipline is something Bond, 27, a Christchurch policeman by profession, understands well. He has enjoyed a meteoric rise since starring in the tour of Australia two years ago. Dion Nash's injury led to Bond spearheading the attack and the Kiwis' ability to fight fire with fire was a major factor in a drawn three Test series. Injuries in 2002 checked his progress but he proved his worth again with 12 wickets in the two-Test series against India in New Zealand before the World Cup. The only thing that can take the sting out of the Lee-Bond confrontation will be the St George's Park pitch if it plays as slow as it did when Australia scraped past England in its group game at the venue.That was a morale-sapping surface for fast bowlers. Cunning is what sets the great quicks apart from the rest and could well decide whether it is Bond or Lee who triumphs on Tuesday.