ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
Australia in West Indies, 2012
Lee unhappy with dual new balls in ODIs
March 14, 2012
Brett Lee has taken aim at the use of dual new balls in ODIs, claiming the change has stripped fast bowlers of arguably their most potent weapon in the late overs of an innings - reverse swing.
Training with Australia's limited overs squad at the Arnos Vale Ground in St Vincent ahead of a five-match series against the West Indies that begins on Friday, Lee said the change introduced by the ICC in October 2011 had "totally changed" the way the format was played.
The ruling, which had first been tried in Australian domestic one-day matches, was designed to combat the white ball's loss of colour towards the end of an innings as an alternative to the previous mandatory ball change at 34 overs. But Lee said it had meant that pacemen were often powerless in the later overs to respond to increasingly aggressive batsmen.
"I'm not a massive fan of it to tell you the truth," Lee said in St Vincent. "I think the only thing a bowler could enjoy is at the Gabba if it's a juicy green-top, you can nick them off for 80-odd if it is swinging and bouncing from both ends. But to me now it's totally changed the way that one-day cricket's played.
"Even when the 34-over mandatory ball-change came in, to me it has taken a lot of the weapons out of the game that a fast bowler uses and that's bowling at the death in the late overs when the ball's not turning around [with reverse swing]. Yes, there will be times when you can get the ball to reverse swing less than 25 overs old, but it certainly has taken a key weapon out of the game.
"That to me is not enjoyable, but you've just got to roll with what you've got. If I had it my way I'd go back to the way the old rules were, because we are playing on wickets these days that aren't really conducive to bowling fast and you need everything you can as a fast bowler to try to take wickets."
Australia's bowlers are preparing for what they expect to be a succession of slow, low Caribbean surfaces, though Lee said the adjustment was less pronounced in 2012 than in previous years, as most ODI wickets around the world now leaned towards those characteristics.
"You might look out there and say it'll be a slow, low wicket, but it won't be too different to what we played on in Adelaide [in the second and third triangular series finals]," Lee said. "I think the days are gone in Australia now where we've got those had, bouncy, fast wickets.
"The wickets we're playing on most of the time around the world now are low, slow wickets - we are used to playing on that throughout the world. Certainly the guys in the squad now have played a few matches overseas if not IPL matches as well, so they're not too different. It is just about summing up conditions as well as we can."
Lee's capacity to play through pain is well known, but if anything he has enhanced that reputation by bowling through the latter stages of the triangular series and now the West Indies tour with a broken bone in his foot. The decision to return well before the predicted eight-week recovery time was made in recognition of Lee's advancing years.
"It's fine, I guess I made the call early on, about a week after it snapped that I didn't want to have eight weeks off and miss this tour and miss the Australian summer," Lee said. "So I'm just playing with pain, which I've done my whole life anyway and it's fine. You just learn to deal with the pain anyway, but it hasn't affected my cricket, which is the good thing, hasn't affected my bowling, and hopefully they can see I'm bowling 150km/h so it hasn't affected my pace.
"It's just going to take longer to heal, to get back to 100%. If I had an eight-week period off then it would get better quicker, but I wouldn't have had the chance to play any cricket. If I was 22-23 I might have gone a different option, but not 35."
Adding to Lee's enthusiasm for the task is the fact that he is no longer quite so indispensable. Australia has developed an enviable battery of fast men, tutored expertly this summer by Craig McDermott. Lee will keep playing for as long as he can, but has noted the fact there are far more willing candidates now than there had been in the past.
"Im really excited by the Australian depth - around the country we've got seven or eight guys who could all stand up and play Test cricket right now," he said. "I'd much rather have a squad of fast bowlers who are pushing to get in there, rather than looking to pick from one or two guys, which we've had in the past, periods when we haven't had a lot of fast bowlers around and it is exciting we've got the depth there.
"These blokes will learn a lot over here and they'll get better as the years go on as well, under the guidance of Billy [McDermott], I think he's done a good job, and having him looking after the fast bowlers has been really good this summer."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
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For New Zealand's wild child, there is probably no better place than county cricket right now