Lee savours international comeback
Brett Lee is savouring every moment of his international comeback after fearing his Australia career could have been over after an injury-plagued 15 months. Lee earned the Man-of-the-Match award at Sydney for his 3 for 27 which helped set up a four-wicket wicket victory to put Australia 3-0 ahead.
Lee has been impressive throughout the series, producing important spells with the new ball then returning in the middle and at the death to provide breakthroughs for Michael Clarke. His first-over dismissal of Matt Prior on Sunday set the tone and he returned to rough up the lower order with some hostile pace, with plenty of glares along the way.
"When you've been away from the game for 15 months it's nice to get back," he said. "I never knew if I'd get the chance again for Australia. It's been a lot of fun and to win three from three is the most important thing."
It's knowing the endless hours of rehab, gym and training that he has put in that keeps Lee motivated along with the prospect of the World Cup next month. "I'm just enjoying my cricket and I've done that all season with New South Wales. I'm now back playing for Australia and to make the World Cup squad was something I've always wished so I'll enjoy myself."
Lee has been registering high numbers on the speed gun, but it's his control and experience which has been so valuable, showing the leadership Australia were missing during the Test series when the attack often appeared threadbare.
"He continues to lead our attack and it's probably the one thing we've been looking for, someone who you can throw the ball to and know he's a banker," Michael Clarke said. "His record speaks for itself and he continues to improve."
And, in a sign of how fortunes have changed, Australia now have a strong supply of pace bowlers. Alongside Lee's impressive form, Doug Bollinger took four wickets at Hobart and John Hastings put in a strong all-round display at Sydney. Mitchell Johnson is expected to be available for Adelaide on Wednesday after his throat infection and Shaun Tait could also have recovered from his thigh strain.
"It's going to be tough," Clarke said. "I thought John Hastings made the most of his opportunity today with bat and ball and he's a great guy to have around. Brett's experience and knowledge, he's been waiting a long time to get back into this team so it will be hard to ask him to have a rest. I don't like my chances to be honest.
"Dougie is bowling well again, too, and the more he can get overs under his belt the better for us leading into the World Cup. It will be tough for the selectors."
But after the trauma of the Ashes, Clarke's overriding emotion is one of delight at having stopped the rot and begun the process of building winning momentum. There is now the prospect of them securing the one-day series at the earliest opportunity with victory in Adelaide on Australia Day.
"It would be great, no doubt," he said. "I think for our fans as well, the people who support us every day. We've spoken about that; every time we walk out we are representing our country. We haven't been at our best in any game and we have still been able to win.
"It's a big game, win that game and win the series. We aren't looking any further than that. It's important to build momentum for the World Cup. The feeling in the dressing room is fantastic and the boys are stoked to get over the line again, but we have to continue to get better."
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo