Paceman Lee ready for Headingley Test return

LEEDS: Fast bowler Brett Lee insisted here today he was ready to make a dramatic return from injury in the fourth Test as Australia look to revive their Ashes campaign.

Lee, the most experienced bowler in Australia’s attack with 310 wickets from 76 Tests, has not featured at all in the first three matches of this Ashes series after sustaining a side injury in the lead-up to last month’s first Test in Cardiff. And the paceman has not played a Test since December after being initially ruled out with foot and heel injuries.

But the 32-year-old New South Wales quick was adamant he would be fit to last the pace in the fourth Test, which starts at Headingley here on Friday with Australia 1-0 down in the five-match series. However, Australia pace bowling all-rounder Shane Watson, whose career has been blighted by injuries, was not so sure if Lee would be ready for the rigours of Test cricket.

Asked if he was fit, Lee said today: “Yes, 100 per cent. I do believe I have done the work. I’ve been bowled eight days straight. Most days I’ve bowled back-to-back, morning and afternoon sessions.

Today I bowled practically the whole session and my pace felt really good. I’m 100 per cent ready to go.” With no tour match in between the end of Monday’s drawn third Test at Edgbaston and Friday’s start at Yorkshire’s headquarters, Australia would be selecting Lee ‘cold’ if they recalled him to their side this week.

But the bowler himself, couldn’t see a problem with his lack of recent match practice. “No not really. Hopefully I’ve done everything I can to prove I’m ready to go. I’m confident if I was called upon to play I would be able to get through. If it was a different injury, you might think differently. But the way I’ve felt, I’ve done the preparation and it’s been a minor setback. Hopefully I’ve passed that, bowling eight days straight and can prove that I can stand up and am ready to go.”

But Watson, speaking to reporters earlier today, said: “I know from my experience of coming back from a side injury, you need one game under your belt to have a good crack out before you get into a real big game.” But Watson insisted: “Of course we would like him back, 150 kph outswingers are a great thing to have. We want him out there as soon as possible.” Lee admitted it had been a frustrating experience to be on the sidelines in a series where Australia have yet to bowl England out twice. “Honestly, it’s been really difficult. You know how much I love playing, you know I’d love to be out there playing,” said Lee.