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As Brett Lee made his way into the Lord's museum for his press conference, the ball he had used to claim a series-clinching 5 for 49 was already on display behind one of the glass cabinets
September 12, 2009
As Brett Lee made his way into the Lord's museum for his press conference, the ball he had used to claim a series-clinching 5 for 49 was already on display behind one of the glass cabinets. No doubt Lee would trade this five-wicket haul for one two months ago during Australia's first Test defeat on the ground for 75 years, but he could barely wipe the smile off his face as he contentedly reflected on a point made in no uncertain terms.
Lee was still suffering from his side injury when the Lord's Test came around, but remains adamant that he was ready to play in the final two Ashes matches. The selectors thought differently and Lee was left to stew on the sidelines. Now England's batsmen are being made to suffer the consequences.
"I was disappointed not to play in the Ashes to say the least, but that's behind me now. I can only perform the best I can when given the opportunity, and that's this one-day series," he said. "I don't think it makes up for what's happened in the Test series, it's a completely different series, but it certainly brings a smile to my face, put it that way. To take a five-for at Lord's is something that is a very, very special part of my cricketing life so far."
He has, in fact, taken one before at Lord's when he claimed 5 for 41 in the 2005 NatWest Series final and is the first bowler to take two in ODIs at the ground. At that stage, though, he was secure of his place in the team whereas now he is having to prove his worth all over again. After four matches, it seems incredible that worth was ever in doubt.
Throughout this series Lee's pace has been consistently quick, often entire overs have been above the 90mph mark. The yorker to remove Adil Rashid was clocked at 95.8mph, and he hopes this performance will help fight off the talk that age is catching up with him after a year on the sidelines with a series of injuries. He even has designs on pushing past the 100mph-mark, a level he once nudged against New Zealand, as he vies for the tag of fastest bowler in the world along with the likes of Dale Steyn and Shoaib Akhtar.
"I know I'm in the team to try and bowl fast, there's always talk about your age but I'm feeling really fit, probably the fittest I've ever felt. I'm only 32 and I want to keep bowling in excess of 90mph for a long time yet, but we'll wait and see what happens with the body.
"We all know from a medical and technical point of view that you don't reach your best speeds until you've played about two months of solid cricket. I want to keep increasing my speed as I have during this series. There's no reason I can't go faster, but at the end of the day if you bowl 98mph and spray them everywhere it's not very effective. There's a happy medium, but I'd like to see my pace keep increasing and pushing 100mph."
Andrew Strauss, while trying to explain another limp performance from his team, praised the performance of Lee for being too good. "If a guy's bowling 95mph yorkers, it's hard work, especially when you're looking to score in the Powerplays. I think you've got to give credit where it's due. I thought it was a sensational spell of bowling."
After the performances of Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus during the Ashes, along with the presence of Mitchell Johnson, Lee is facing a challenge to resume his Test career but it's one he relishes. "I've left the Ashes behind me now, I have dealt with that and moved on," he said. "I'm hoping to get the chance to play some Test cricket this Australian summer. The only thing I can try and do is take wickets in one-day matches to prove I can play Test cricket again.
"I've actually felt good throughout the whole series. I've been very lucky the body has been pulling up very well, and you have these days in your life when things just click. Today was one of those days, the yorker was landing where I wanted it to land, I felt pretty strong at the crease and walking away with a five-for is a special feeling."
When it was put to Lee that there may be a chance for him to take a rest now the series is sewn up - with the Champions Trophy to come before a tour of India - he almost had to stop himself laughing. "I've had about four months rest…I'm feeling good and ready to go," he said.
Lee, though, still wants his ball back. "I don't play for that factor of the game but when they asked for it straight away to be put on loan for 12 months, I said 'well if I can get it back after 12 months definitely'."
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