Australia in South Africa, 2005-06 March 16, 2006

Australia concerned at Lee's workload

Cricinfo staff

Brett Lee's poor form in the one-dayers and heavy workload is a major concern for Australia © Getty Images
Australia have admitted they are concerned by the workload of Brett Lee, their fast bowler, following his poor form in the recent one-day series. Australia are in action against South Africa in the first Test at Newlands, Cape Town, but are without Glenn McGrath.

McGrath was unavailable for the tour after his wife, Jane, had a recurrence of her cancer. This leaves Lee to take the new ball for Australia, but there is growing concern for the bowler's form; in his last nine one-day games, he took just eight wickets at a cost of 57.50 each.

"He's been up for a long time," Ricky Ponting, the Australia captain, said yesterday. "He didn't get the break we wanted him to have in the VB Series at home because of different circumstances.

"Brett, in particular, is one we have to keep an eye on. He loves coming to training and working on things and he wants to bowl all the time. Me and the coaches have got to have a word to him every now and then," he said. "I don't think we'll lean on him anymore. I won't be looking for him to bowl any more overs or longer spells. Brett is best used as an impact bowler."

In choosing to omit Stuart MacGill, Australia opted to hand Stuart Clark a debut who, along with Michael Kasprowicz and Lee, made up Australia's pace attack for the first Test. Ponting stressed that Lee would be used primarily as a shock bowler:

"Through England he was probably asked to do a little bit too much," he said. "Brett will be the spearhead of the attack but it won't mean that we will be looking for him to do any more work. I've kept a really close eye on him in the one-day games.

"His stats of late haven't been great in the one-day game, so he'll be looking forward to getting out there in the Test matches. He knows he's not going to have to bowl real long spells again. We'll look after him the best we can that way."