Sportstar archives: Life in the fast lane with Brett Lee

The Australian fast bowler spoke to Sportstar about his dreams, the scares of injury, and why he looks up to former Aussie speedster Dennis Lillee.

Brett Lee: I was always clear from my young days that I would bowl at 160km per hour.   -  V. V. KRISHNAN

Brett Lee, of the blond hair, the searing run-up and the flashy smile, suddenly turned serious and said, “There is this impression of us fast bowlers being menacing, but that ain’t true. We may be tough on the field, but off the field – especially me – we have a softer side. Intensity is just on the field, that’s it.” And then he reclined on the rear seat, waved at an awestruck fan on the pillion of a bike that flashed by and told his car driver jaldi karo.

Lee was taking in the sights and sounds of Bangalore at night before the first Test between India and Australia, and as he stopped by at a few pubs as part of a promotional tour for a drink that the Aussie team endorses, fans screamed in delight while flashbulbs went berserk. The Sportstar caught up with him in his car, and in a freewheeling interview, Lee spoke about his dreams and the scares of injury. Excerpts.

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Glenn McGrath works himself into a frenzy before a series by targeting one particular batsman, especially the captain of the rival team. How do you charge yourself up for a series?

Personally, I try not to target one particular batsman. I always find it better when I just focus and concentrate on what I am doing. It is the old cliche – focus on the job at hand. Those words might sound old, but it actually works, more so on a tour like this where it is really hot and humid and the pitch is not conducive to fast bowling. We definitely have our work cut out here.

How did you and the team prepare for the India series?

We are trying very hard. We have done a lot of work back in Australia. We have done our work in London. Training in gyms with tracksuits on, monkey caps on, sweating it out to get ready for these hot conditions. We have bowled a lot of overs in the nets and we have done almost everything possible and hopefully we will get that opportunity to try and play well over here.

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You are slowly coming back after surgery on your left ankle. Did that break from cricket leave you insecure?

It does get lonely at times. It does feel quite strange when you are away for five months, which is the longest time I have been away from cricket in five years. The first initial contact after getting back with the guys is quite strange because you feel like you are missing out on something, but on the flip side, I had time for myself to reflect on what happened in the last five years. Thoughts always come to mind, but what makes a person succeed or not depends on how he overcomes that. In adversity, people say that you are not very good, but you have got to believe in your talent and believe in one thing that you don’t lose your talent overnight and that is one thing I keep telling myself.

Brett Lee: I always find it better when I just focus and concentrate on what I am doing. It is the old cliche – focus on the job at hand.   -  V. V. KRISHNAN


Talk about you and Shoaib Akhtar often veers towards speed, but is speed the only skill that drives you?

I was always clear from my young days that I would bowl at 160km per hour, but that is one of the goals. Obviously, the dream is to play Test cricket for Australia, and in the World Cup I bowled at 160.7km per hour, so I achieved that goal, too. I am proud that I have done it, but the most important thing for me is to try and take five wickets for my country in every innings. I would rather take five wickets than bowl at 160km per hour.

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Speed may be your strength right now, but what about the future when age catches up with you?

I will try and take a leaf out of Dennis Lillee. He was always an express bowler and then when as time got on and nature crept in, he was no longer a full-on, full-out fast bowler. But then he had total control of swing, seam, movement. He had all that and that was all part of his armoury and that is something I am trying to work on as well.

What is your inspiration for this tour?

My inspiration is that I was not part of the last two tours over here – the one in 2001 and the last tour for One-Dayers, which I missed due to my ankle surgery. I was disappointed that I was not on that tour and so I worked extra hard to make sure that I am on this tour because I love this place, love the people, love the culture, and I embrace it.

(This interview was first published in the Sportstar Magazine dated 23/10/2004)

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