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Lee - Aussie tear away fireball a revelation with control

Published: Tuesday, February 4, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
 
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Johannesburg: Australia's Brett Lee, one of the world's fastest bowlers, has struck a rich vein of form at the optimum moment. Tall, blond and athletic, with an intimidatingly explosive approach to the wicket, the 26-year-old from New South Wales (NSW) has always had speed to spare. The one attribute missing until recently - control.

That problem has been overcome in recent months after Lee received the biggest shock of his career in November - he was dropped from the Australian Test side for the first two Tests of the Ashes series against England. Sent back to Sheffield Shield ranks to sharpen his game, Lee responded immediately, grabbing a welter of victims which earned a recall for the third Test.

He has not looked back. The lightning pace remains - deliveries of 150 kilometres-plus (93 mph) an hour are common - but now accompanied by lethal accuracy. His economy during the recent tri- nations series against England and Sri Lanka in Australia was a revelation. He was named player-of-the-series.

In nine matches he snapped up 18 wickets at an average of 18.77 from 82.3 thundering overs costing an average of 4.1 runs. When it really counted - in two finals against England - Lee snatched eight wickets at an average of 7.37 and hurled down 19.3 overs costing an average of just three runs each. Lee has had to overcome much adversity to become one of the game's best strike bowlers.

Stress fractures in his back sidelined him five years ago before elbow surgery later put him out of action. He has had to withstand murmurings about the legitimacy of his action before International Cricket Council (ICC) experts cleared him. Fast, furious and exciting, Lee looms as a potential tournament winner for his country.

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