Melbourne: Injured fast bowler Brett Lee"s place in the Ashes 2009 squad is under serious threat after the unexpected success of Australia"s pace attack against South Africa.
Lee is slipping further down the queue with each impressive performance from the trio of Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus in the on going series against the Proteas.
Only five months ago, Lee was Australia"s main attack bowler, but at present he is arguably the fourth or fifth best fast bowling option, The Herald Sun reported.
On current form, Johnson and Siddle demand to be the first two bowlers picked.
Stuart Clark has recovered from an elbow injury and is itching to return while Hilfenhaus is expected to be a handful in the swing-friendly English conditions.
That leaves Lee, still on the comeback from ankle and foot surgery, at the back of the pack two months out from the selection of the Ashes squad.
Lee, who started running again last week, has limited opportunities to impress national selectors before they choose the touring squad for England.
Not helping his case will be his modest returns in the last two Ashes tours of 29 wickets at 45.45 and having never played a season of county cricket.
Chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch made sure he used the word “if" when discussing the possibility of both men returning to action later this year.
“Brett and Stuart are coming back from quite serious injuries, so we"ll see how that progresses," he said.
Former Test seamer Damien Fleming says Lee and Clark deserve their spots in the national side, but only if they are firing.