Australia in New Zealand 2004-05 March 2, 2005

Waugh backs Lee in beamer debate

Cricinfo staff

After playing alongside Brett Lee, Steve Waugh believes a flat technique is responsible for the beamers © Getty Images

Steve Waugh believes Brett Lee's action has caused his tendency to spray beamers at opposition batsmen. As the controversy from his dangerous full toss at Brendon McCullum's waist on Saturday continued, more former players joined the debate and Rodney Hogg said it was a deliberate ploy.

Waugh, the captain who has seen Lee at his fastest, told the Courier-Mail his "flat-into-the-crease" action increased the likelihood of the higher delivery. "You have to take Brett's word it was accidental," Waugh said. "It has probably happened to Brett a couple of times because there is something about his action. He is flat into the crease. If he gets it slightly wrong bowling yorkers or low full tosses, if he slips or the batsman moves - there is a possibility he can get it wrong more than other bowlers."

Waugh said the beamer issue was delicate and if a bowler had deliberately delivered one there was no way his teammates would stand up for him. "It doesn't matter what the bond of friendship is," he told the newspaper. "It is the one big no-no. The one thing every cricketer abhors is a bean ball. It can seriously injure someone."

However, Hogg, the former fast bowler who played 38 Tests, said Lee's ball at Auckland was "unacceptable". "A bean-ball at the head is not a slip," Hogg told a Melbourne radio show. "It's a cold, calculated piece of the game. When you release a bean-ball, you are releasing it at a different part of your action. You have to release the ball earlier."

Hogg said the two beamers Abdul Razzaq bowled to Lee in the VB Series finals were also planned. "Razzaq and Lee had a confrontation up in Sydney and Razzaq was trying to make out that it slipped, but it didn't," he said. "Lee gave him a real good one back ... but it's not on." Hogg said he bowled similar deliveries on flat wickets "to even things up" when there was "no rule that said you couldn't".

Merv Hughes, Len Pascoe and Sir Richard Hadlee agreed with Lee that the McCullum blow was accidental. Hadlee said the ball "slips from time to time" and Hughes said a beamer was a "head-high full toss".

"If Brett wanted to hit a bloke in the head, he's good enough to do it," Hughes told the Sydney Morning Herald. "When you bowl at Brett's pace, it only takes, say, his foot to be out of place just a little bit for the ball to go off line."

Pascoe told the newspaper it was his action that was causing the problem to re-occur. "If it had only happened once you might think it's deliberate, but the fact it's happened three or four times says to me that it's his technique," he said. "The margin of error for a bloke bowling that fast off 30 paces is very small. Your knee might collapse on release, your shoulder might drop a little, and that can lead to the ball going off target."