Australia in India 2008-09 October 22, 2008

Gillespie backs Lee to fire

Jason Gillespie on Brett Lee: "The ball is coming out of his hand all right. You don't lose your skills overnight" © AFP

Jason Gillespie has backed Brett Lee to come out firing in the remainder of the India-Australia Test series. He also said that the media has made too much of the "spat" between Lee and Ricky Ponting.

Lee hasn't been at his best so far on the tour, his four wickets in the first two Tests costing nearly 60 runs apiece. "Lee has been a fantastic bowler for Australia for many years. Even technically, I don't see him doing much wrong," Gillespie said. "The ball is coming out of his hand all right. You don't lose your skills overnight. He has been bowling well without luck."

Lee reportedly had an angry exchange with Ponting on field when he was not given the ball in the first session of the final day. Ponting later clarified that Lee wasn't given a bowl because of low over rates and because he felt there was a need to take the pace off the ball.

Gillespie suffered a similar situation when Ponting gave him only four overs in the second innings of the Manchester Test in 2005. However, Gillespie believes the situation was very different from the present scenario. "Look, I wasn't bowling well then. I was going for runs and not picking wickets (Gillespie had figures of 1 for 114 from 19 overs in the first innings]. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see that Ricky did the right thing.

"Here, Lee is not bowling badly. He is just a competitive guy and wants to contribute to the team. And it was sorted out after Ricky explained his reasons. The media has overblown it unnecessarily."

Gillespie said there was too much criticism of the Australian team after just one defeat. "When the Australians lose, the talk that era is over and stuff like that comes out. It's just one loss. We lost here in 2001 too. Of course the teams are different. Many big names have retired."

Gillespie felt that the onus lies on the Australian batsmen to combat the reverse-swing and put up a good score for their bowlers to defend. "The Indian bowlers have executed their skills incredibly well. It's up to the Australian batsman to combat that. The Australian bowlers are getting reverse-swing but of course a lot later than India. But I see some positives. Peter Siddle was very good; he gave a good account of himself in his first Test. Lee has got reverse in the past; he is getting it here and I am confident he will have more success in the tour. Mitchell Johnson has been getting good reverse. It is up to the batsmen to do the job."

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo