West Indies in Australia / News

Australia v West Indies, 1st Test, Brisbane, 4th day

'I'm there to bowl fast' - Lee

Peter English at the Gabba

November 6, 2005

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In the line of fire: Brett Lee's 5 for 30 against the West Indies at Brisbane was his first in four years © Getty Images
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Brett Lee has spent the past week asking Australian Test captains for advice and he hopes the reconstructed attitude that propelled him to a career-best performance will also produce greater wicket-taking consistency. Australia have been waiting for Lee to grab a cluster of victims instead of headlines since he rejoined the team in England, and he showed he was capable of turning listening into action with a haul of 5 for 30 that ruined West Indies.

Lee has been inundated with unsolicited speed tips since the Ashes and he spoke to Mark Taylor, the former Australian captain, last week and has locked in a meeting with Steve Waugh over the next few days. However, his detailed chat with Ricky Ponting last night dictated the way he ran in today and the instant reaction helped cause the West Indies implosion of 8 for 44 to end the match.

Disagreeing with Lee's first-innings plan that failed in its economy focus, Ponting demanded he swing the new ball and bowl as quickly as possible in four- or five-over spells. "Brett is like he is because of his pace," Ponting said. "If he drops back he becomes easier to hit so we addressed that last night. It's a confidence thing and about understanding the way he has to bowl. We've addressed these issues quite a few times with Brett, we did it with his one-day bowling a few years ago, and hopefully today is a step in right direction."

Not only did Lee claim his first five-wicket haul for four years, but he and Nathan Bracken also shut both Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne out of the wicket list for the first time in the 157 completed innings they have bowled together. "I'm back now so hopefully I can use this as a platform," Lee said. "My role is an impact bowler and I'm ideally suited to four-over spells. My biggest asset is pace so I'm not going to go out there and try to bowl 135-140kph line and length. I'm there to bowl fast."

Lee was quick today and he followed the opening marks of Devon Smith and Ramnaresh Sarwan with three lower-order wickets to seal the 379-run victory and end his lean run. "It's been four seasons since my last five-for, but I haven't been in the Test side for two of those," he said. "Over the past two or three months I felt I bowled well but needed to be more consistent. I worked on different line and lengths because over the past five Tests in England the body felt good, the rhythm felt great, but the results weren't coming."

While Lee was bouncing, the allrounder Shane Watson was waiting on a scan on the left shoulder he injured in the field today. A report on Watson's fitness is expected on Monday and it will determine how many changes Australia will make for the second Test at Hobart starting on November 17. "If Watson doesn't come up that will throw the balance of the side out quite a bit," Ponting said. "There will also be arguments for two spinners in Hobart and Stuart MacGill is in very good form."

Justin Langer expected to recover from a fractured rib for the second Test and Ponting said Bracken, who moved the ball impressively in taking 4 for 48, would be considered for his reverse-swing qualities. He also admitted Simon Katich, who did not bat in the second innings, was under pressure following a zero in the first.

Despite the ease of the victory Ponting was adamant it would not affect the side's attitude for the remainder of the series. "If complacency crept into this team after what a lot of the guys have been through in the last few months I'd be very disappointed," he said. "We've still got areas to work on and we've worked harder than we ever have coming in to this series."

Peter English is the Australasian editor of Cricinfo

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