Brett Lee retires from Test cricket
SYDNEY: Australia's feared fast bowler Brett Lee quit Test cricket on Wednesday after a run of injuries, following Andrew Flintoff as the latest player to give up the tough format in a bid to prolong his career.
Lee, 33, who is slated to play in the lucrative IPL Twenty20 competition next month, said the long-expected decision was a "cricket choice and it's a lifestyle choice."
"To me, Test cricket is my favourite part of the game, wearing the baggy green cap," he told Sky News. "But if I'm going to keep playing cricket for another few years, something had to give."
Lee took 310 wickets in 76 Tests since making his debut in 1999, making him Australia's fourth most successful Test bowler behind Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Dennis Lillee.
However, the tall, blond paceman last played a five-day match in December 2008 when he suffered a severe foot injury during the Boxing Day match against South Africa in Melbourne.
Lee, who has a young son from a failed marriage, has since battled ankle and rib problems, keeping him out of last year's Ashes series, and said he had been considering his decision for months. An earlier report said he finally decided to quit after talking to England all-rounder Flintoff, who retired from Tests last year. New Zealand's Jacob Oram has also walked away from Tests to focus on one-dayers and Twenty20s.
"This hasn't happened overnight. This has been a long process," Lee said. "I've had the time to step away from cricket and what I want to achieve.
"It's been about a three- to four-month decision that I've made and finally I went with it."
Lee's intimidating physique and pace made him a terror among batsmen as he lined up alongside Warne and McGrath in Australia's all-conquering side of the 2000s, when they dominated the Test rankings.
Wisden magazine's 2006 Cricketer of the Year lays claim to cricket's second quickest recorded delivery when he bowled at 99.9 miles (160.8 kilometres) per hour in 2005, a speed beaten only by Pakistan's Shoaib Akhtar. Lee, who appeared in the 2009 Bollywood flick "Victory", said that, like other Australian players, he was awaiting security clearance to play in this year's IPL after a reported threat from an Al-Qaeda-linked militant.
"As far as going to India, it's just waiting and seeing," he said. "We're not in a rushed situation to make a call. "We (players) are not experts in that field."
Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland praised Lee's "fantastic" career and said he hoped to see him return for Australia's one-day and Twenty20 teams.
"I remember seeing him debut at the MCG against India in the Boxing Day Test back in 1999," Sutherland said.
"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."
Lee, who averaged 30.82 runs per wicket and clocked 10 five-wicket hauls, is currently 22nd on the all-time international Test bowlers' list.
But his most enduring image was in batting helmet and pads, when he was consoled by Flintoff after Australia fell agonisingly short of a win in the 2005 Ashes series, which England went on to win.
Australian captain Ricky Ponting said Lee would go down as one of the country's greatest Test players.
"If we all just take a minute and think about what he's put himself through in that 10 or 12 years -- running 35 metres to bowl every ball, bowling every ball at close to 150 kilometres per hour, and putting his heart on the line every ball he bowls," Ponting said.
"I think this bloke deserves a massive pat on the back."