Lee not broken by latest setback

Brett Lee warms up AFP

When it comes to discussing his injuries Brett Lee can sound like the Black Knight in Monty Python. "It's just a flesh wound," the swordsman says as he loses both arms.

Over the past year Lee has undergone surgery on his foot and ankle, missed the Ashes due to a side strain and retired from Tests following a severe elbow operation that wiped out his summer. Four IPL games into his comeback he broke his right thumb. Still he fights on.

He didn't quite mutter "just a scratch" when analysing the injury, but the latest setback won't prevent him from joining his team-mates on their flight to the West Indies on Friday for the World Twenty20. "I've played with pain my whole life so a broken thumb won't worry me," Lee said after an indoor session at the Gabba.

The slightly revised shape of the digit also offers some benefit. "The way that I hold the ball, it's pretty much the way the thumb is sitting at the moment," he said. "I'm lucky that I don't have to get the finger right around the ball. It's all good."

Lee was a late inclusion at Australia's pre-tournament camp, which involves eight of the 15-man squad, and was cleared by his doctor two weeks after being hit by Sachin Tendulkar while playing for Kings XI Punjab. It was another untimely break for Lee as he attempts to regain a spot in the Twenty20 side that has evolved since he exited the one-day tour of India in October.

So far the comeback has not gone well, but returning senior players find ways to overlook the statistics and focus on feel. Lee didn't pick up a wicket in 14.3 overs in the IPL and went for 149 runs, 25 of those coming when he was roughed up by Robin Uthappa.

"Apart from that one over, I thought I bowled pretty well during the IPL," he said. "I was a little bit unlucky, but that's part of cricket. To get back on the field after pretty major elbow surgery, I'm really confident and happy about that. To me it wasn't about the figures, it would have been nice to get a wicket or two, but I was happy with the way the ball came out."

During Lee's latest absence Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Tait and Dirk Nannes became the preferred trio in Twenty20s and the 33-year-old hasn't yet been able to show that he should regain a starting place. He has the faith of a national contract for 2010-11 based on his decade of elite service.

"It's a matter of me, I don't have to look over my shoulder," he said of breaking into the team. "What I can focus on is getting myself right and if I get the opportunity to play I will try to grab the opportunity with both hands, pardon the pun."

If Australia feel indulgent they have the option of playing four extreme speed men in the Caribbean, although that would rob them of batting firepower. The IPL has also shown that the fast men are more prone to give away boundaries even while taking wickets.

"Why not?" Lee replied when asked if a pace quartet could work. "It would be pretty handy, four bowlers bowling at 150 clicks. I wouldn't want to be the batting side."

However, he realises bowlers are having to be more thoughtful in the format and that speed is no guarantee of success. Pitches in the West Indies are usually low and slow, except in Barbados, and Lee has been trying to add some new deliveries to his repertoire.

"It's important for the fast bowler to have a couple of things up his sleeve and be a bit more cagey," he said. "In Twenty20 cricket we've seen all the adaptations that the batsmen have done - stance, lap sweeps - and bowlers have to be a little bit crafty as well. Changing different things, different balls, distracting batsmen in certain ways which are all legal, just trying different stuff."

Australia start their campaign with warm-up matches in St Lucia against Zimbabwe and a Windward XI next week, providing there are no ash-related delays in their travel. Their opening group game is against Pakistan on May 2 followed by the fixture with Bangladesh to determine which sides progress to the second round.