Snubs suggestions Australia weren't tough in the Ashes April 27, 2006

Lee rejects 'nice and friendly' tag

Cricinfo staff

Brett Lee: Friendly...who me? © Getty Images

Brett Lee, the Australian fast bowler, has snubbed suggestions that he and his team-mates weren't tough enough in last summer's Ashes contest. His comments came on the heels of Steve Waugh's take that the Australians were too 'sociable' with England and that the camaraderie contributed to the defeat.

Lee, whose friendship with Andrew Flintoff was widely celebrated as a symbol of Ashes sportsmanship, told the Herald Sun that thoughout the tight series Australia played with its trademark competitive edge. "It's always a fine line. If you overdo (aggression) it's 'ugly Australians', but if you have a smile on your face it's Australia being too nice," he said. "The series was tough but fair. When we took the field against England we played it hard. But we were doing it the right way even though we were being very aggressive."

Australia's surrender of the little urn ended 16 years of dominance - which began in 1989, the year Steve Waugh emerged as a Test star and Allan Border, then captain, put a freezeon relations with their rivals. "I thought from the sidelines perhaps they were a little bit too friendly," Waugh said. "They were using England players' nicknames in the press and that was something that hadn't been done before. They may have become too familiar to England and lost a bit of mystique." On his own encounters with playing competitive cricket, Waugh added, "When I first played the West Indies we didn't know much about them, they kept pretty much to themselves and that gave you self doubts on the field. As you get to know players more you become less intimidated by them."

Lee, however, confirmed his mateship with Flintoff never got in the way of his aggression or duty. "Look at Flintoff. When I was bowling to him I was being very aggressive," he said. "He was trying to hit me for six, and I was trying to get him out. Batting against him on several occasions my ribs got a workout. He was really giving it to me."

Australia host England for a repeat series this winter.