Australian Cricket July 20, 2012

Lee's global legacy

Martin Gleeson
He managed to balance his desire and focus while clearly enjoying his cricket, respecting his opponents and with it, the game's traditions and values
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This past week has brought with it a flood of glowing tributes following Australian quick Brett Lee's decision to retire from international cricket. And rightly so; Lee's career statistics stand him among the greatest of Australia's pace bowlers: 310 Test wickets at an average of 30.81, 380 ODI wickets at 23.36… . The numbers are outstanding by any standards and the fact that he consistently bowled 150 kmh, with the blonde hair and rockstar looks. only added to his on-field persona.

On the field, Lee personified the spirit of cricket. He was a great competitor who gave it his all in the pursuit of excellence and success. He repeatedly bounced back from injuries that threatened to curtail his career. Even after retiring from Test cricket two years ago, he continued to deliver and lead the attack for Australia in ODIs and T20s despite being continually written off with each niggling injury.

Yet, he also managed to balance this desire and focus while clearly enjoying his cricket, respecting his opponents and with it, the game's traditions and values. Who is likely to forget the image of a forlorn and gutted Lee being consoled by Andrew Flintoff after the memorable 2005 Ashes Test in Edgbaston, a match in which Lee piloted the Aussies to within two runs of victory from a seemingly 'unwinnable' position? The resultant image was so powerful in representing the spirit of cricket that it became the key marketing plank of Cricket Australia collaterals for the next Australian summer.

Now that he has retired and career eulogies are being written, how will he be remembered? Cricket Australia's CEO James Sutherland summed it up nicely when he commented: "Brett inspired young Australians to play cricket and bowl fast". Of this, there is no doubt. Having had the privilege of working in junior development in the Australian system, other developing cricket countries, and now in India, its abundantly clear Lee's contribution to cricket is far more reaching than just the boundaries of the country he represented. Not only in Full Member countries but from the villages of Papua New Guinea to the foothills of Mount Fuji in Japan, budding cricketers have all tried to emulate the Australian pace, swing and bounce (along with the trademark mid-air heel click to celebrate a wicket).

While at Cricket Australia, I had the opportunity to work alongside Lee at some school promotional clinics in suburban Melbourne. As you would expect he was affable, down-to-earth and a massive hit with children. Now in his role as the Cricket Education Program Ambassador in India, his footprint can now be seen in schools of Mumbai, Pune, Jaipur, Chennai and others across the country. As an ambassador he is a perfect fit; his philosophies, ideals, ethics, attitudes, and tips provide the perfect role model to assist the next generation of youngsters to achieve their dreams.

I have witnessed his influence in a very real and profound way among Indian children. At a recent summer camp in Chennai an eleven-year-old Lee clone appeared. The youngster had mimicked Lee's action to a 'T' and made it his own. The likeness was exact he was very quickly tagged 'Brett Lee' by his batchmates with other children trying to copy his action. Nine-year-old Dev Alimchandani from Mumbai had an opportunity of a life time during last year's ICC World Cup to spend an hour-long one-on-one at a coaching session. The child's sheer passion and excitement at the session left an indelible impression. Twelve months after the event, young Dev still recites the coaching tips learnt from his encounter and is constantly striving to emulate his hero.

In Pune last year, Lee was involved in a session with local participants. Such was his willingness to get involved and share his time, he left the waiting media in his wake so that he could get on the field and work with the children. The youngster, who managed to bowl Lee out in the impromptu match, was an instant celebrity and was clearly touched and beaming when he got the chance to discuss his achievement with the vanquished Lee.

Lee's on field performances and statistics will stand the test of time and will install him as one of the greats of the modern game. His off-field legacy and his impact on the future generations of Australians, Indians, and others around the world will also ensure his long-term contribution to 'play cricket and bowl fast' will be global in its reach.

Martin Gleeson is a former Coaching Program Manager at Cricket Australia and has coached in the ICC Development Program. He is now the CEO of Cricket India Academy delivering Cricket Australia's Cricket Education Program in India

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Espy on February 13, 2013, 10:22 GMT

    Critics can debate all day whether he can be classed as a "great" but make no mistake: Bing was certainly in a class of his own. Few pro athletes these days exude the sort of confidence he does, play with such competitveness but are willing to have a drink with you at a bar at the end of the day. Will greatly miss that smile of his when he rumbles down the crease or when celebrating a wicket. My mates and I always bemoaned the fact that he wasn't English. I think that sums him up quite appropriately.

  • Shaad on October 20, 2012, 9:53 GMT

    Finest cricketer & All Rounder of all time...All the best lee my cricketing idol...

  • Flinthart on September 26, 2012, 11:03 GMT

    He was good. Very good. In another era, he'd have stood out head and shoulders... but in Australia, he stood in the long shadow of Glenn McGrath, and it was harder to appreciate him for that. Nevertheless, he was a treat to watch, and he played the game in the finest spirit.

  • Geoff on September 24, 2012, 22:17 GMT

    Brett lee has been one of the greatest cricketers of all time. I too have seen him bowl in a One Day game earlier this year and the speed that he was able to generate especially when he was younger he was just so quick. Even as he got older he still had good pace and speed. With his battle with Shoaib Akhtar you couldn't tell who was the quickest.

  • dc on September 10, 2012, 13:22 GMT

    I go for the Black Caps but live in Sydney.

    I saw Brett Lee take a running in from the boundary diving catch at the Big Bash last year which won the game. He may not have been the best fast bowler, but he loved the competition, was always willing, and an extremely fit cricketer. I also saw him bowl in a one dayer vs the Kiwis, i was sitting side on to the wicket. He really was blistering fast in his day.

    And the way he handled his personal life in the media was incredibly admirable, ie his family. no cheap press shots.

  • leslie on September 4, 2012, 18:50 GMT

    Lee and Akhter two great fast bowlers.We love u guys for all the entertainment you two have provided over the years and the passion created among the youngsters.Cricket world will miss you, your persona and the fear in the eyes of oppostion.Best of luck and may God richly bless you both.

  • Judy on September 1, 2012, 13:59 GMT

    We will miss you not only for your talent but your wonderful personality and humanity as well, also appreciate you for your musical ability, please remain in cricket either as a coach or administrator. AND DON'T STOP THE MUSIC it is really what makes the world go around. GOOD ON YOU MATE!

  • con tringas on August 13, 2012, 12:32 GMT

    I AGREE WITH ALL THE PLAUDITS THAT GO WITH LEE NOT AS GOOD A BOWLER AS DENNIS LILEE BUT A BETTER SPORT.

  • sounak mukherjee on August 10, 2012, 19:00 GMT

    one of the best australian heroes and as well as world best pacer i personaly salute breet lee he is my idol.best of luck to breet lee after retirement from international cricket

  • Baby Bhamra on August 9, 2012, 13:43 GMT

    I think we are really missing a fast volcano on field.A charming smile which changed the environment on field.i want that he come back on picth.please..........................

  • Espy on February 13, 2013, 10:22 GMT

    Critics can debate all day whether he can be classed as a "great" but make no mistake: Bing was certainly in a class of his own. Few pro athletes these days exude the sort of confidence he does, play with such competitveness but are willing to have a drink with you at a bar at the end of the day. Will greatly miss that smile of his when he rumbles down the crease or when celebrating a wicket. My mates and I always bemoaned the fact that he wasn't English. I think that sums him up quite appropriately.

  • Shaad on October 20, 2012, 9:53 GMT

    Finest cricketer & All Rounder of all time...All the best lee my cricketing idol...

  • Flinthart on September 26, 2012, 11:03 GMT

    He was good. Very good. In another era, he'd have stood out head and shoulders... but in Australia, he stood in the long shadow of Glenn McGrath, and it was harder to appreciate him for that. Nevertheless, he was a treat to watch, and he played the game in the finest spirit.

  • Geoff on September 24, 2012, 22:17 GMT

    Brett lee has been one of the greatest cricketers of all time. I too have seen him bowl in a One Day game earlier this year and the speed that he was able to generate especially when he was younger he was just so quick. Even as he got older he still had good pace and speed. With his battle with Shoaib Akhtar you couldn't tell who was the quickest.

  • dc on September 10, 2012, 13:22 GMT

    I go for the Black Caps but live in Sydney.

    I saw Brett Lee take a running in from the boundary diving catch at the Big Bash last year which won the game. He may not have been the best fast bowler, but he loved the competition, was always willing, and an extremely fit cricketer. I also saw him bowl in a one dayer vs the Kiwis, i was sitting side on to the wicket. He really was blistering fast in his day.

    And the way he handled his personal life in the media was incredibly admirable, ie his family. no cheap press shots.

  • leslie on September 4, 2012, 18:50 GMT

    Lee and Akhter two great fast bowlers.We love u guys for all the entertainment you two have provided over the years and the passion created among the youngsters.Cricket world will miss you, your persona and the fear in the eyes of oppostion.Best of luck and may God richly bless you both.

  • Judy on September 1, 2012, 13:59 GMT

    We will miss you not only for your talent but your wonderful personality and humanity as well, also appreciate you for your musical ability, please remain in cricket either as a coach or administrator. AND DON'T STOP THE MUSIC it is really what makes the world go around. GOOD ON YOU MATE!

  • con tringas on August 13, 2012, 12:32 GMT

    I AGREE WITH ALL THE PLAUDITS THAT GO WITH LEE NOT AS GOOD A BOWLER AS DENNIS LILEE BUT A BETTER SPORT.

  • sounak mukherjee on August 10, 2012, 19:00 GMT

    one of the best australian heroes and as well as world best pacer i personaly salute breet lee he is my idol.best of luck to breet lee after retirement from international cricket

  • Baby Bhamra on August 9, 2012, 13:43 GMT

    I think we are really missing a fast volcano on field.A charming smile which changed the environment on field.i want that he come back on picth.please..........................

  • Selim on August 2, 2012, 3:53 GMT

    Good grief. They all played silestanuoulmy for me as well. Oh AB, is there anything you cannot do?However.What wins it for you in my opinion Jrod, is that I'm not sure if it's AB or BL actually singing. Sounds like it could be AB, but not convinced about Binga, and from the photos I've seen of him in his band, he has to spend all his concentration on watching his fingers.Whereas, for some reason, can't quite put my finger on it, I need no convincing that's you singing. You wouldn't lip-sync at the Logies. Fie!Btw, DC, are you suggesting that Jrod is prettier than Brett Lee?

  • Auth on July 31, 2012, 14:05 GMT

    Have you ever considered adndig more videos to your blog posts to keep the readers more entertained? I mean I just read through the entire article of yours and it was quite good but since I'm more of a visual learner,I found that to be more helpful well let me know how it turns out! I love what you guys are always up too. Such clever work and reporting! Keep up the great works guys I've added you guys to my blogroll. This is a great article thanks for sharing this informative information.. I will visit your blog regularly for some latest post.

  • Aina on July 24, 2012, 12:44 GMT

    A truly remarkable performer and sportsperson. Your presence on the team will be greatly missed. Wish you'd played a few more years.

  • kalpendra jha on July 23, 2012, 16:08 GMT

    great cricketer and fittest cricket ever

  • Meety on July 23, 2012, 5:54 GMT

    Another top article about a top bloke!

  • Ojasv on July 22, 2012, 15:35 GMT

    It is a very good article.. A true champion fast bowler. He had the best action in the world. Sad to see him go..but a lot of batsman will have a peacefull sleep from now on..

  • Akhtar on July 22, 2012, 12:14 GMT

    Akhtar and lee were ideal record maker fast guys....but they came in thier respective countries same time when around them there were ghosts like wasim waqar saqlain and magrath shane warne so if a bowler like them came todate in pak or aus cricket he can get full fame as he will desrve

  • Abs_truth_son on July 21, 2012, 22:18 GMT

    Brett Lee right alongside Steve Waugh is arguably the most revered foreign cricketer in India. To me, he will go down as the *ONLY BOWLER* ever in the history of cricket to have retained the tag 'tearaway' right from day one to his last. He also taught the world at large that being fast does not necessarily make you uncouth like the circus clowns from Pak and WI.

  • John Piers Cilliers on July 21, 2012, 18:06 GMT

    Brett Lee was (and still is) one of the nicest sportsmen I've seen on a cricket field! As a competitor he was tough as nails but at the end was always a good sport! Well done Sir, you honored your code. Good luck for the rest that's still to come.

  • Saleh on July 21, 2012, 17:43 GMT

    L- Lethal E- Electric E- Ecstatic Will miss your blistering actions for Australia. Good luck mate.

  • Satadru Sen on July 21, 2012, 14:40 GMT

    With his natural courtesy and sportsmanship, Brett Lee is a rarity among modern-day international cricketers, who tend to be either surly jerks or pampered children.

  • McArthur on July 21, 2012, 6:57 GMT

    I am from the West Indies and we really appreciate a good fast bowler. Well Brett was a Great one! That he was fast to the very end of his career was remarkable. I have 2 enduring images of Lee, one was the unforgettable lee/Flintoff moment during the 2005 Ashes series (was the spirit of cricket ever better capture in a single photo?), the other ironically did not include Lee in the photo but he delivered the ball to Brian Lara during the 2003 Australia match at Port of Spain, The photo captures Lara, feet off the ground, head thrown back, avoiding a vicious Lee bouncer. Wow! Thanks for the memories Brett!

  • Faiz Malik on July 20, 2012, 16:54 GMT

    One of the most awesome and affable cricketers. Induced fear in opponents' ranks with sheer pace..and that celebrating jump always made for incredible wallpapers. India were often at the receiving end of his brilliance, but it was impossible to loathe him for that.

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  • Faiz Malik on July 20, 2012, 16:54 GMT

    One of the most awesome and affable cricketers. Induced fear in opponents' ranks with sheer pace..and that celebrating jump always made for incredible wallpapers. India were often at the receiving end of his brilliance, but it was impossible to loathe him for that.

  • McArthur on July 21, 2012, 6:57 GMT

    I am from the West Indies and we really appreciate a good fast bowler. Well Brett was a Great one! That he was fast to the very end of his career was remarkable. I have 2 enduring images of Lee, one was the unforgettable lee/Flintoff moment during the 2005 Ashes series (was the spirit of cricket ever better capture in a single photo?), the other ironically did not include Lee in the photo but he delivered the ball to Brian Lara during the 2003 Australia match at Port of Spain, The photo captures Lara, feet off the ground, head thrown back, avoiding a vicious Lee bouncer. Wow! Thanks for the memories Brett!

  • Satadru Sen on July 21, 2012, 14:40 GMT

    With his natural courtesy and sportsmanship, Brett Lee is a rarity among modern-day international cricketers, who tend to be either surly jerks or pampered children.

  • Saleh on July 21, 2012, 17:43 GMT

    L- Lethal E- Electric E- Ecstatic Will miss your blistering actions for Australia. Good luck mate.

  • John Piers Cilliers on July 21, 2012, 18:06 GMT

    Brett Lee was (and still is) one of the nicest sportsmen I've seen on a cricket field! As a competitor he was tough as nails but at the end was always a good sport! Well done Sir, you honored your code. Good luck for the rest that's still to come.

  • Abs_truth_son on July 21, 2012, 22:18 GMT

    Brett Lee right alongside Steve Waugh is arguably the most revered foreign cricketer in India. To me, he will go down as the *ONLY BOWLER* ever in the history of cricket to have retained the tag 'tearaway' right from day one to his last. He also taught the world at large that being fast does not necessarily make you uncouth like the circus clowns from Pak and WI.

  • Akhtar on July 22, 2012, 12:14 GMT

    Akhtar and lee were ideal record maker fast guys....but they came in thier respective countries same time when around them there were ghosts like wasim waqar saqlain and magrath shane warne so if a bowler like them came todate in pak or aus cricket he can get full fame as he will desrve

  • Ojasv on July 22, 2012, 15:35 GMT

    It is a very good article.. A true champion fast bowler. He had the best action in the world. Sad to see him go..but a lot of batsman will have a peacefull sleep from now on..

  • Meety on July 23, 2012, 5:54 GMT

    Another top article about a top bloke!

  • kalpendra jha on July 23, 2012, 16:08 GMT

    great cricketer and fittest cricket ever