Australia v South Africa, VB Series, Melbourne January 21, 2006

Lee the best, says Ponting

Cricinfo staff



Brett Lee dismisses Graeme Smith for 9 en route to a career-best bowling display © Getty Images
Following a career-best bowling analysis in Australia's crushing 59-run win over South Africa at Melbourne yesterday, Brett Lee has been hailed by Ricky Ponting as perhaps the best one-day bowler around.

Lee's 5 for 22 shocked South Africa - chasing 246 to win - into submission and Ponting has been clear in his opinion on this performance. "He'd certainly be pushing for it (the title of world's best one-dayer bowler), yeah," Ponting has been quoted as saying by AFP. "I think he has been and the stats would probably back it up.Time and time again he takes wickets with that new ball. Once you get one or two down with that new ball and he's still in the middle of a spell, it's going to be hard work for any opposition side."

Lee's inspired spell - including four batsmen bowled - sparked a massive collapse which saw South Africa lose five middle-order wickets for 10 runs.

Graeme Smith, who was caught behind off Lee for just 9, said the Australian was now a more disciplined bowler. "He's bowling quick and he's swinging it, so at 150kmh when someone's swinging it like that it's always a battle," Smith said. "We know he's a strike bowler and we know that when he comes back he's looking for wickets, and tonight we didn't handle those situations that well."

Lee himself said the Australians had formulated a plan which relied on bowlers working in tandem. "We've been working on bowling in partnerships - try to really dot (dot ball) the batsmen up and put the pressure back on them."