Australian news September 22, 2010

Brett Lee close to signing with Wellington

ESPNcricinfo staff

Brett Lee is close to securing a Twenty20 deal with Wellington as he aims to play as much cricket as possible in the lead-up to the World Cup. Lee's manager Neil Maxwell believes the fast man would be available for six or seven of Wellington's ten Twenty20 games if the agreement is confirmed.

New Zealand's domestic Twenty20 competition is played throughout December, which means Lee would need to juggle his commitments, being required for limited-overs games with New South Wales during that period. Maxwell said all that was left was to get the all-clear from Cricket New South Wales.

"We've been given the okay by Cricket Australia in principle, so we'll check with Cricket New South Wales, which I don't think will be a problem," Maxwell told the Dominion Post. "We're just waiting to get something in writing from them. We've been speaking with Gavin Larsen [the Cricket Wellington CEO], who is obviously keen and we just want to lock that away in the next week or so."

Lee has had an injury-plagued year, including elbow surgery last December, and he has not played for Australia since October last year. He has not played any high-level cricket since a brief IPL stint in April, and he hopes to be in the mix for Australia's World Cup defence early next year.

"He netted last night," Maxwell said. "He's rolling his arm over comfortably about 130kph without too much effort, he reckons, so he'll start cranking it up now."

If Lee signs with Wellington, where the coach is his former New South Wales team-mate Anthony Stuart, he could be joined in New Zealand by some Australian colleagues. Shaun Tait is believed to close to signing with Canterbury, while Northern Districts are reportedly chasing the batsman David Warner.