Lee still feels the need for speed

Australia fast bowler Brett Lee insists there is still time for him to become even quicker as he bids to regain his place ahead of next month’s first Ashes Test.

And he is adamant that, at the age of 32, he remains a “pure fast bowler”.

Lee played the last of his 76 Tests back in December before undergoing foot and ankle surgery.

Lee, who has taken 310 Test wickets at an average of just over 30 apiece, now finds himself competing for a spot with Ben Hilfenhaus, Stuart Clark and Peter Siddle in a pace attack where only Mitchell Johnson seems assured of a place.

“Sprinters reach their peak at 33, 34 years of age. There’s no reason why a bowler can’t keep improving,” said Lee.

“Of course there will come a time when your pace will drop off and you’ve got to go back bowling a slower pace because your body can’t take it.

“Yes, I am 32 years of age but I have missed a fair bit of cricket through being 12th man and a couple of surgeries on my ankle so maybe I am a cricketing 27. I want to keep improving my pace.
The work I’ve done in the gym, it’s all about bowling fast.

“I’m not going to be out there bowling 130 kp/h and trying to swing the ball. That’s not the way I play.

“I am in the squad to be a bowler who can bowl at up around 150kp/h and a good line and length. I’m not looking to hang the boots up. I’m a pure fast bowler.

“No batsman likes facing a very fast bowler if he is on-song, I don’t care what they say. It’s coming down at 150 kp/h, it’s pretty scary stuff. But if you don’t get the ball in the right spot then it is money for jam because the ball goes to the fence quicker.”

Kevin Pietersen, struggling with an Achilles injury, is widely regarded as vital to England’s hopes of regaining the Ashes they lost 5-0 in Australia in 2006-07.

Asked what it was like to bowl at the South Africa-born batsman, whose 158 at the Oval in 2005 sealed England’s 2-1 Ashes series win, when he was in form, Lee replied: “Not good. He’s a class act.

“When KP’s on-song he’s one of the hardest batsmen in the world to bowl to, I don’t care what anyone says.

“I’ve bowled against him when he’s been playing well. He picks the ball very early, he hangs back in his crease, gives himself that extra yard of time and he plays the all shots.

“Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff are the two most-like Aussie players in the England squad, the way they’ve got that controlled aggression and don’t want to let any player overpower them,” Lee explained.

“When you’ve got that with a player who’s got talent, that’s a pretty handy mix,” he added.

One of the most memorable moments of the 2005 series was at the end of the second Test at Edgbaston where non-striker Lee was consoled by Flintoff after so nearly seeing Australia to victory with the bat in a match they lost by just two runs.

“That moment was one of my favourite moments in Test cricket,” Lee recalled. “To me, that was in the right spirit of the game.

“It was a moment I’ll always treasure but I am hoping that 2009 will be similar but that the result will be different.”

But Lee, who showed his batting prowess by making an unbeaten 47 on the first day against Sussex here on Wednesday, knows getting back into the Test side won’t be easy with just the fixture at Hove and a match against the England Lions before the Ashes opener starts in Cardiff on July 8.

“Now it comes down to how we play in the two trial games,” said Lee.

“Mitchell Johnson has been outstanding, you’d always expect him to go through. But there are a couple of guys fighting for one spot and 16 doesn’t go into 11.”—Sapa, AFP

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