x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Indian sign magic for Lee

The IPL has special resonance for the 33-year-old fast-bowler, given his affinity with India and especially Kings XI Punjab.

Brett Lee, left, hopes to star for Kings XI Punjab in the IPL which begins tomorrow.
Brett Lee, left, hopes to star for Kings XI Punjab in the IPL which begins tomorrow.

Brett Lee has always been a man in a hurry. Bowl fast, retire young, then on to the next thing, be it making movies in Bollywood or putting his name to fashion labels back at home. No time for regrets. With a CV like his, why worry? There is not much else in cricket left to win, save for the recently-minted Twenty20 trophies of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the World Twenty20.

The IPL has special resonance for the 33-year-old fast-bowler, given his affinity with India. Kings XI Punjab, the franchise he plays for, start their IPL campaign in Mohali on Saturday, and the Australian is desperate to play a part. "I am working overtime in order to be ready for the first game," he said. The game has changed much since Lee made his first trip to India with the Australia Under 19 side in 1994. He was still eligible for the Under 17 side, and had to take his homework with him on the trip to the subcontinent.

"I was really young, still doing my HSC at the time," said Lee. "I just fell in love with the country. I thought it was amazing, incredible. For some reason, we clicked. "Because I have always embraced the culture, they have embraced me. It is like my second home now. I have been there 30-odd times, and I love going back." His regular pilgrimages to India are likely to be more sporadic in future. For a start, there are to be no more Test tours there, after his recent retirement from the longest format of the game.

"I have a young son [Preston], who is three-years-old," he said. "Last year, I was away for 11 months, I spent nine months away from home, and was home for two nights. "I don't want to do that any more. I am a man of my promise, I'll always keep my word, and the time was just right, in terms of my body." It seems amazing to think that Lee, who still seems a vision of youthful vigour, could now be surplus to requirements in Australian cricket.

Only last month, Michael Clarke, their Twenty20 captain and his fellow Sydneysider, suggested that Lee might struggle to be on the trip to the Caribbean for the World Twenty20, given the present embarrassment of pace riches. Talk about heavy artillery. If the great West Indies attacks of the 1970s and 80s were any quicker than Australia's prospective World T20 attack then there must have been some serious heat flying about.

Even Sir Viv Richards might have considered donning a helmet to face a pace battery of Shaun Tait, who clocked 160kph earlier this year, Dirk Nannes, the fastest Virender Sehwag has ever faced, according to the man himself, and of course, Lee. Come the World Twenty20 at the end of next month, they could all be in harness for the first time. "And you can throw Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle into the mix as well," enthused Lee.

"We have a wonderful squad. I have enjoyed bowling with Tait in previous games, so it would be good to get back into the squad and to bowl high 150s. "I have always been honest with myself. The reason I have been successful in cricket is because I have always backed myself, not in an arrogant way, but I always trust my own ability. "If there is some reason I can't [bowl in excess of 150kpm] then I won't play. I will quit." @Email:pradley@thenational.ae