Hobart: With Glenn McGrath out and a question mark over Jason Gillespie, Australia will definitely be looking to tearaway Brett Lee for a demolition job in the two Tests that remain. Lee, away from international cricket for two months owing to an abdominal injury and corrective (ankle) surgery, is just waiting to be unleashed.
Of course, chief selector Trevor Hohns and his colleagues must first pick him in the squad for the third Test (Melbourne, from December 26) — only, as already reported in these columns, that’s a certainty.
Lee himself is aware of that and Thursday’s papers have devoted much space to everything he said a day earlier, in Sydney. “I’ll be in the team to bowl fast and, if I get that chance on Boxing Day, that’s what I’m going to try and achieve,” is one quote given a real splash.
That’s not all, though.
“I’ll just bowl the way I have been doing for the last couple of years... The MCG (venue of his successful Test debut) has a wicket that has a fair bit in it... I think it could have more life and be conducive to fast bowlers,” is something else he pointed out.
Lee made his first-class comeback against Victoria over the weekend and, now, is ready for New South Wales’ next Pura Cup match — versus Tasmania, from Friday.
The speed merchant’s maiden Test appearance, it may be recalled, was against India on the last tour (1999-2000) and he bagged five for 47 in innings No. 1 itself. Since then, however, he has undergone elbow surgery, besides being laid low with injuries. Yet, in the World Cup, he was much too hot for Team India and appears to hold a psychological edge.
The captain, though, doesn’t agree.
“Look, whatever Lee has done in the past, he will be under pressure on his comeback... In fact, given that we are batting well, we only need to continue with our normal game. We don’t have to return to the drawing board,” Sourav told The Telegraph with customary confidence.
Meanwhile, Australia’s captain-designate Ricky Ponting has reacted sharply to Sourav’s remark (after the Adelaide Test) that a series victory would allow India a claim on the No. 1 label.
“They have got the side to be (No. 1); they are a good team... But, there’s a long way to go... If they think they can become world champions after winning one Test, well, good luck to them...” has been his response.
Clearly, ‘Punter’ Ponting isn’t putting any of his dollars on Team India.