Brett Lee announces retirement from Test cricket

Brett Lee announces retirement from Test cricket

Brett Lee announces retirement from Test cricket

Australian cricketer Brett Lee poses for photographs at the Sydney Cricket Ground after announcing his retirement from international Test cricket in Sydney, Wednesday. Lee, who has been bothered by injuries which have restricted him to 76 Tests since his debut in the 1999-2000 season, has not played a test since January 2009. AP

Announcing his decision to walk into Test sunset at the SCG here, 33-year-old Lee, Australia's fourth most successful bowler, said he was retiring from the longer format to concentrate on one-day internationals and Twenty20s and spend more time with his family.

"I am extremely proud to have played Test cricket for Australia. My reason for retiring from this form of the game is so that I can preserve my body and continue to represent my country in the other forms of the game," Lee told a press conference here.

"This is not the end of me. It's a cricket choice and it's a lifestyle choice," Lee, affectionately called 'Binga' by his team-mates, said.

Lee said the highlight of his career was taking his first Test wicket in Melbourne against India in 1999 -- when he clean bowled Sadagoppan Ramesh.
"I could've hung up the boots just then," he said.

Though calling time from Test cricket, Lee declared the five-day format as the pinnacle of the game and advised younger bowlers not to focus all their energy on the shorter versions.

"Obviously, there's specialist one-day and Twenty20 bowlers. But for me, Test cricket is where it's at. There's a lot of luck in Twenty 20, a lot of skill and a bit of luck in one-dayers. But Test cricket is a test for the bowlers and a test for the batsman," Lee said.

The blonde speedster burst onto the Test scene in the summer of 1999, making his debut against India in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne where he took 5/47 in the first innings and finished with seven wickets in the match.

A winner of the Allan Border medal for being Australia's best cricketer in 2008, Lee has 310 wickets under his belt from 76 Tests at an average of 30.81 since his debut. Lee has 324 ODI wikctes from 186 matches.

He has not played a Test since the 2008 Boxing Day match in Melbourne against South Africa. He limped out of that match with a stress fracture of the foot and after playing in an ODI series and the Twenty20 World Championship in May-June post-recovery, he was once again laid low by an elbow injury.

A Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 2006, Lee has been pondering Test retirement for quite some time now and had even admitted to a fear of never being able to bowl again.

The tearaway bowler is behind only Shane Warne (708), Glenn McGrath (563) and Dennis Lillee (355) in the highest Test wicket-takers' list for Australia. He is the 22nd highest wicket-taker in the world and Australia's third most successful fast bowler.

Lee was an integral part of one of the most successful Test sides of Australia under Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting. Initially, he was a first-change bowler after McGrath and Jason Gillespie but later became Australia's pace spearhead between 2005-08.

He sent down a 160.8km/h thunderbolt in 2005, which remains the fastest ever delivery bowled by an Australian and second fastest overall behind Pakistani pacer Shoaib Akhtar (161.3km/h).

Lee becomes the latest player after England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff to retire from Test cricket to prolong international career in shorter formats. The star England all-rounder had apparently convinced Lee to give up the five-day format for a longer career in ODIs and Twenty20s.

Immensely popular in both Australia and India, the affable pacer is a part-time musician and has even dabbled in acting, making a guest appearance in a Bollywood movie last year. He is currently contracted to Kings XI Punjab in the lucrative Indian Premier League.

But for all his success both and off the field, the bowler has endured a series of painful surgeries for various injuries, including four on his ankle alone. He had described the recent elbow surgery as the most painful of his career.

Cricket Australia Chief Executive Officer James Sutherland paid tribute to Lee and his outstanding efforts for the Australian Test team over the last 10 years.
"Brett's had a fantastic career in Test cricket for Australia over a long period and I take this opportunity to congratulate him on the way he has represented his country and the outstanding contribution he has made," Sutherland said.

"Brett has played a key role in helping Australian team be one of the most successful Test teams in history. But it's also the way he went about his cricket; with a readiness to smile and a clear enjoyment of what he was doing, which also helped lift the team’s popularity and won the support of fans in Australia and throughout the world.

"I remember seeing him debut at the MCG against India in the Boxing Day Test back in 1999; he bowled a very quick spell that had the Indian batsmen ducking for cover and straight away I think we all knew then that we were watching the birth of a great fast bowler," he said.

Sutherland assured Lee he would be considered for the shorter formats of the game.
"To finish Test career sitting fourth on Australia's list of Test wicket-takers, behind names such as Warne, McGrath and Lillee is a fantastic achievement. Although he's now retired from Test cricket, I look forward to seeing him return to Australian colours in the shorter formats of the game, as I'm sure are many cricket fans around the world."

CA National Selection Panel Chairman Andrew Hilditch also praised Lee for his service to the Test team and hoped to see the fast bowler back to his best in the shorter formats.

"Brett has made an outstanding contribution to the Australian Test team over a long period and it has been a great pleasure to see him develop as a person and a cricketer over that period," Hilditch said.

"He's been one of the world's quickest bowlers in Test cricket for a long period of time and a key member of Australia's squad during a very successful era in Australian cricket. While Brett has announced his retirement from Test cricket, the NSP will continue to monitor his progress as he returns from injury and will be keeping a close eye on his form in the shorter formats."

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