July 26, 2000

Shane Lee appointed NSW Blues captain


SYDNEY, July 26 AAP - New South Wales cricket captain Shane Lee hasn't given up on making his Test match debut, despite the extra responsibility of leading his state.

Lee's appointment as the Blues captain was officially announced in Sydney today.

NSW Cricket also announced a $1 million three-year sponsorship deal with the Excell Corporation, a New Zealand-owned company based in Melbourne which maintains parks, reserves and playing fields. Lee pointed out that most state captains had played Test cricket for Australia, citing Western Australian Tom Moody as an example.

"I think in a way it'll help my own game because I seem to play better with that added responsibility," Lee said.

"So if I score enough runs and take enough wickets, I'll push my own way into the Test team.

"It's pretty much the same case with Tom Moody. When he took over the captaincy for Western Australia it really brought the best out of his game and got him back in the Australian team."

The 26-year-old all-rounder said his NSW and Australian team mate Michael Bevan harboured no resentment at being dropped as state captain.

"Michael's been spoken to by myself and (NSW coach) Steve Rixon and (he) hasn't got a problem with it," Lee said.

"He'll be very supportive and he wants to see NSW back at the top of the tree like I do and the rest of the boys do."

Lee understands the difficulty of lifting the NSW team, which ended a horror season last year with the wooden spoon.

"I think our goal this year is to understate and overachieve," he said.

Lee said he was looking forward to guiding promising young players such as Brad Haddin, Don Nash, Greg Mail and Michael Clarke.

His job as captain will be aided by the presence of NSW's Test players for the opening three matches of the Pura Milk Cup competition.

Born in Wollongong, Lee has been captaining first grade sides since his cricketing days with the Under 19s.

"When you're captain you have nowhere to hide. You have to make all the decisions and the buck stops with you," he said.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge and I've got the support of all the boys.

Lee cemented his spot in the Australian one-day cricket team last year after dropping in and out of the team since his debut against the West Indies at Adelaide in 1995/96.

Both Lee and Bevan are likely to be absent from the NSW team when the one-day international series between Australia, Zimbabwe and the West Indies kicks off in Melbourne on January 11 next year.

A spokesman for NSW Cricket said today that Rixon and NSW chairman of selectors John Benaud would recommend a temporary captain to the board for this period.

Under the sponsorship deal with Excell, the NSW team will be known as the Excell Blues.