Lee's rushed comeback sets unwanted record
The big surprise of the day at the NatWest Series game between Australia and Pakistan at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff, yesterday, came when the Australian team sheet was made public. On the list was one Number 58, Brett Lee.
Although it was known to all and sundry that Lee, who hadn't bowled competitively since an elbow operation in February, was training with the Australian team in England, he was not chosen as a member of the one-day squad and was expected to commence his playing comeback in a Second XI game for Nottinghamshire next week.
Lee's return to the Australian team was fast-tracked, however, after injuries to Nathan Bracken (shoulder), Jason Gillespie (hamstring) and Damien Fleming (calf muscle) made the new-ball situation in the one-dayers desperate.
Lee - unexpected appearance
In the end, despite Australia's easy victory, it was not the happiest of matches for Lee. His ten overs brought one wicket - that of Shahid Afridi - but cost 85 runs. This set a new record as the most expensive ten overs by an Australian bowler in one-day international history. (The world record for ten overs is 97 runs by Asantha de Mel for Sri Lanka in the 1987 World Cup, while New Zealand's Martin Snedden conceded 105 runs in 12 overs in the 1983 World Cup.)
Lee's last four overs went for 48 runs as Pakistan made their dramatic late-order fightback. A more unfortunate statistic is that Lee has conceded 157 runs in 18 overs in his last two ODI appearances, including the game against Zimbabwe on February 4 where he suffered the elbow injury that required an operation.
Following the Cardiff game yesterday, the Australian camp announced that Andy Bichel would join the squad until Bracken, Gillespie and Fleming had recovered from their injuries. Bichel is playing for Worcestershire in county cricket this season, and in eight limited-over appearances to date has taken 13 wickets at 21.23 from 77 overs - and scored a century batting at number three.