|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Shop||Mobile|
These are tough times for Australia's bowlers. While the side's overall return is diminishing, the fast bowler's collection improved slightly with his first two-wicket haul in the series in the third Test
November 3, 2008
The public confidence in Australia's squad is so high it would be easy to think they were the team heading to Nagpur with a 1-0 lead instead of facing the prospect of losing the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. In modern sport, keeping up positive appearances during times bordering on despair is essential for sending all sorts of messages - to opponents and team-mates - but it masks what is actually happening.
Brett Lee is adept at following the company line and after being the leader of a wobbling attack in the first three Tests believes a change of results is imminent. It has been a popular message over the past month.
What the sports-speak doesn't reveal is that Australia took 14 wickets in Bangalore, 13 in Mohali and 12 in Delhi. While the side's overall return is diminishing, Lee's collection improved slightly with his first two-wicket haul in the series on Sunday. These are tough times for Australia's bowlers.
Despite the lack of penetration, Lee is confident of a swift turnaround and convinced this unit is one for the long term. "The bowling squad we've got now is great," he said. "We'd like to keep that going past the Ashes, or even further on. You've got to trust the guys around you and trust that we are, as a bowling group, not far away from taking those 20 wickets. It's hard work in India."
Mitchell Johnson leads the series wicket tally with 12 at 34.58, but the next most-successful Australian is Lee with seven at 57.71 before Shane Watson's five at 47.40. India have four bowlers with eight or more victims and the tourists will attempt to copy some of their methods in the final game.
"We'll try and experiment with new things," Lee said. "What we've done in the first two Tests probably hasn't worked. If you're being critical about not taking wickets, we haven't achieved that goal. In the last Test we tried new things and watched what India did. Sometimes they bowled short stuff, then put the ball up and tried to get the nick or lbw."
Lee has just finished his third Test in India and said he was still learning and adjusting to the conditions, which were "a lot tougher than anything we're used to around the world". In the first two games he got a wicket in each innings before match figures of 3 for 167 from 47 overs in Delhi. It is a big switch from 2007-08 when he picked up 58 wickets in nine Tests.
"I was lucky the last couple of seasons to have success, and then when you look up at the scoreboard and you haven't got many wickets in the first couple of matches, it's easy to think is it my action? Is it because the ball isn't swinging? Is it because I'm not fit enough? But you've just got to trust your own ability," he said.
Following a tense and at times angry contest, Lee supported Johnson's bowling and verbal aggression against V.V.S. Laxman on the final day after the batsman had described Australia's approach as "defensive". He also felt Johnson was doing a good job of carrying the attack.
"He's bowled well, whether it's because he's a left-hander and gets the ball to angle across or not," he said. "Everyone has patches where they take a bag full. Everyone has been backing Mitch up and he's really carried the side and done a great job. Why? He's put the ball in the right areas."
Australia will consider making changes to the line-up for Nagpur, with the legspinner Cameron White likely to make way for Jason Krejza and fast bowlers Doug Bollinger and Peter Siddle coming into contention. Stuart Clark bowled economically in Delhi, going at around two an over, but Ishant Sharma was his only wicket. It will be revealing to see where the team stands on tying up an end versus the potential for more breakthroughs.
"It's very tough to sit there and judge and say Stuey hasn't taken many wickets - he's a world class bowler," Lee said. "We'd have Stuey Clark in the side at any stage.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.