Lee 'fired up' for Pura Cup final
Victoria's struggling top order will need to fend off a fired-up Brett Lee if the Bushrangers are to upset the favourites New South Wales in the Pura Cup final at the SCG. Despite playing only one match during the Blues' campaign this season Lee is desperate to help his state finish the summer on top, according to the team's coach Matthew Mott.
"I know he's fired up, he's incredibly keen to do well," Mott told the Age. "He's never played in a shield final before and he's absolutely champing at the bit. We're hoping that if he doesn't get the wickets he'll at least rattle a few blokes for others to cash in. He's certainly keen to play, very excited. The week off will do him good."
A Pura Cup title would cap off an incredible summer for Lee, who stepped up to be Australia's spearhead following Glenn McGrath's retirement. He was named Man of the Series in both of Australia's Test contests, against Sri Lanka and India, and became the first bowler since McGrath to win the Allan Border Medal.
Lee joins Stuart Clark, Nathan Bracken and Stuart MacGill in a Test-quality attack that will provide a serious challenge for Victoria, whose top order has hit a slump at the wrong end of the season. Brad Hodge, David Hussey and Cameron White continue to pose a threat in the middle but it is three months since the Bushrangers have had a 50-run partnership from their openers, Nick Jewell and either Rob Quiney or Lloyd Mash.
Mark Cameron, the New South Wales fast bowler who has impressed with 27 wickets at 17.51 this season, is likely to miss out when the game starts on Saturday, to accommodate the returning Australia bowlers. Mott said it was disappointing for whoever was omitted but the Blues had a duty to field their best available side.
"That debate always comes up but it's something the players have been used to in New South Wales for a while, having such a big number of Australian representatives," he said. "Sometimes you get the good end of it as well. The thing that the players have got to remember is if the Test players were around all the time they probably wouldn't get an opportunity at all.
"I think it makes them hungrier. It is very hard for the likes of Matthew Nicholson and Mark Cameron who have done exceptionally well all year. But they've all copped it pretty well. We love having the Australian blokes back and it's special for the other guys to get to play with them, playing with the best players in the world. It's something they look forward to."