Upon picking up his calf injury Lee decided that the time to retire had arrived
Australia pace bowler Brett Lee has announced his retirement from international cricket after failing to fully recover from a calf injury he picked up in the recent ODI series against England.
Lee was initially set to retire after the upcoming International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty20 in September, but after being flown home from England, he decided it was time to step aside and let Australia’s young bowlers shine.
The pace bowler ends his career tied in first place with Glenn McGrath as Australia’s leading wicket taker in ODIs, with 380 wickets to his name.
Lee retired from Test cricket in February 2010 and since then, he has been a great asset to Australia in the shorter formats of the game.
He last represented Australia in the fourth ODI against England, where he injured his calf midway through his third over.
It was his 221st career ODI and when leaving the field to seek medical attention, Lee was clapped off by the entire Durham crowd, since they knew this could be the last time they would see the pace bowling maestro in action.
Lee made his retirement official the following week with an announcement at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
“I guess you ask yourself a lot of questions when you’ve been injured or been through a tough time, it’s been the last two or three nights I have thought about it a lot. I woke up this morning and I knew this was the right day to do it. In a team environment you have to be committed 100%, both mentally and physically. Looking at the next two months I just didn’t have that desire any more. It wouldn’t be fair on me or the rest of the team if I was to go over there with that attitude – not lack of commitment, but you just get to a point in your life when you decide enough is enough. The great run must end. It was going to be post-World Cup [Twenty20]. We had spoken about that with the selectors and that was the time I was going to walk away from the game. But I woke up this morning and just felt like I was ready. It was time to go,” Lee said.
Lee made his debut in the 1999 Boxing Day Test against India, and will leave the game as the tenth-highest wicket taker of all time, with 718 victims across all three formats.
The fast bowler was part of the Australia squad that lifted the ICC 50-over Cricket World Cup in 2003, and has taken part in three successful Ashes victories over arch-rivals England.
However, Lee will leave the game on a low, as Australia were defeated by their arch-rivals 4-0 in the ODI series, but Lee noted that the team was headed in the right direction.
“What I can say about the Australian cricket team right now is that we are guided by a terrific guy in Michael Clarke, I think he’s been a terrific captain. He’s got a great cricket brain. We’ve just got to back the guys we’ve got around us and realise that we don’t make superstars overnight. We can’t expect guys to go out there and get five-for in their first match, or a hundred. The guys need to take time to get used to their spot. There’s a lot of unfair pressure coming from all angles on the players these days. Pick a group and try to stick with them I reckon is the best advice,” Lee said.
One of the young bowlers that will play a huge role for Australia in the coming years is 19-year-old Pat Cummins, who has had early injury trouble, but also seeked advice from Lee on how to improve his bowling.
“He’s got so much talent. If I had half his talent that he’s got at 19, you’d take a million Test wickets, he’s a wonderful guy, he’s a guy that listens, he’s got a great body to bowl fast. The thing I told him the other day is that you are going to get injured, unfortunately. If you put yourself and your body on the line every single time you bowl a ball, the chances are you will get injured. You’ve got to learn how to deal with that, learn how to deal with the media saying you’re injury prone, how to deal with people saying you’ve got to bowl 150ks every single ball. It’s tough, it’s challenging. I know that he can do it,” Lee said.
Lee has been hit with so many injuries throughout his 13 year career, that he describes it as having had “more sequels or comebacks than Rambo”.
The pace bowler also missed the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup due to a serious ankle injury and has also suffered with back, abdomen, side, elbow and foot problems throughout his long career.
However, Lee stated that he had no regrets about the amount of injuries he picked up as a fast bowler.
“It may be a little bit crazy to be a fast bowler, to put your body on the line every single time, I’ve always said that if you’re not living on the edge you’re taking up too much space. That’s the way I’ve always played my cricket. If I’ve done something I’ve done it pretty well [injuries]. This calf tear is the first proper torn muscle I’ve had in 20 years of cricket, so I can’t really ask my body for much more than that,” Lee said.
Lee is also hoping to continue entertaining fans by playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Australia’s Big Bash League.
“There’s still the Big Bash, there’s the IPL. I’m not totally losing my cricket thrill or the chance to play cricket. Hopefully I will get the opportunity to play here [the SCG] again. Obviously it won’t be for the Australian cricket team, which will be sad. But I know I’ve made that right call,” Lee added.