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McGrath keeps faith in injured Lee

Cricinfo staff

November 10, 2009

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Brett Lee chats to Glenn McGrath as they leave the field having secured a 5-0 Ashes whitewash, Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney, January 5, 2007
Strong bond: Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee have shared a lot of work © Getty Images
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Glenn McGrath insists Brett Lee's bowling is still world class and he should be picked in Australia's Test team as soon as he is fit. While Lee has not played a Test since hobbling out of the Boxing Day match last year and is currently recovering from an elbow bone spur, he is also behind the young bowlers Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus in the pecking order.

However, McGrath, who was launching Jane McGrath Day for January's Sydney Test, said Lee remained a threat to international batsmen. "I think Brett's still got a lot to offer, a lot of experience and what he brings to the team, that fear factor, there's still that aura there he's created," McGrath said at the SCG.

"In saying that, the guys that have done the job, the way Mitchell Johnson's bowled, Pete Siddle has impressed me and Hilfy and Dougy Bollinger coming on the scene, you can't fault any of them. It's good, healthy competition [but] I would have 'Binga' in any team I played in if he's back fit again."

Lee, 33, has taken 310 wickets in 76 Tests but there is a feeling the selectors doubt his ability to get through back-to-back five-day games. After recovering from ankle surgery, Lee did not play a Test during the Ashes series due to a side strain even though he felt he was ready for the final two games. The latest elbow setback, which resulted in an early departure from the India one-day series, came following some encouraging performances in the limited-overs sides.

New South Wales face Tasmania in a Sheffield Shield match next week and Lee will have to play in that game to be a serious contender for the opening contest against West Indies from November 26. "In a Test the workload is going to be pretty heavy and I don't think Brett would want to go into a Test where he was concerned [about his body]," McGrath, who took 563 wickets in 124 Tests, said. "If he broke down in that first match back it could damage his career a lot more than just sitting that one out and coming back when he was 100% right.

"I heard he had a bowl at the nets yesterday and was pretty happy about how it went. If he can get through a four-day match then he can get through a Test match."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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