Brett Lee is back to claim his place in team

Published: Sunday, November 7, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney:Discarded fast bowler Brett Lee will waste no time this week in pushing for a return to the Australian team for the opening Test against New Zealand.

Lee will line up for his first match in almost six weeks when New South Wales play New Zealand in the Kiwis' four-day tour opener at the Sydney Cricket Ground starting on Thursday.

Lee, who turns 28 on Monday, returned home Sunday from the tour of India declaring himself the fittest he has ever been after an exacting training schedule.

He was shut out of the Australian side for all four Tests by the pace trio of Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Michael Kasprowicz, who captured 43 Indian wickets between them.

Now Lee wants opportunities on the quicker home wickets for the two-Test series against New Zealand starting in Brisbane on November 18.

Lee said the team management had been pleased with his work off the pitch in India and he needed to remain patient.

"The guys are saying 'the hard work will pay off' so I will try and take their words of wisdom. (Captain) Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist were fantastic over there, to give me that advice," Lee said on Sunday.

"It's just a matter now of staying nice and relaxed and try and go out there and do well on Thursday. I'm not going to go out there and try and put too much pressure on myself.

"I'll just go out there and enjoy playing against the Kiwis and I've done well against them in recent times."

Lee has a good record against New Zealand, taking 32 wickets at an average 20.81 from six Tests. Two of his five-wicket hauls came against the Kiwis.

Lee broke down with an ankle injury in Sri Lanka in March and last played a Test against India two months earlier.

He said he was feeling the benefit of working hard and shedding several kilos in the Indian heat.

"It's probably the fittest I think I've ever felt. I had a good eight to 10 weeks of solid training, I wasn't playing any cricket, so each day I was just in the gym and doing a bit of boxing," he said.

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