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Lee desperate to keep going despite Test exit

Brett Lee has stepped down from the five-day game Getty Images

"This is not the end of me. It's a cricket choice and it's a lifestyle choice."

Brett Lee has said goodbye to the Test arena but at 33 is desperate to recover from elbow surgery to represent his country again in the game's shorter forms. Lee has not added to his 76 Tests since he fractured a bone in his left foot late in 2008 and if he thought his aching body could deal with the demands he would be pushing for more time under a baggy green.

But after dealing with long-term foot, ankle, side and elbow injuries over the past 15 months he knows his body can't take the strain. Despite his decision to focus on the one-day and Twenty20 formats - he hasn't decided whether he will go to the IPL yet - Lee does not want younger fast men to give up on Tests.

"Obviously, there's specialist one-day and Twenty20 bowlers," he said at the SCG. "But for me, Test cricket is where it's at. There's a lot of luck in Twenty 20, a lot of skill and a bit of luck in one-dayers. But Test cricket is a test for the bowlers and a test for the batsmen."

Lee said his best memory was his first Test wicket, which came when he bowled Sadagoppan Ramesh in his opening over on debut at the MCG in 1999-2000. "At that point I could've hung up the boots just then," he said.

He exploded on to the scene with 46 wickets in seven Tests before needing surgery following a severe elbow injury that threatened his career. After his recovery he went on to support Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie before becoming a first-choice weapon for Australia between 2005 and 2008.

After surgery early in 2009 he was committed to coming back for the Ashes campaign and made the tour squad, but strained his side having proved his potency in the final warm-up match. Another elbow operation was required when he was sent home from the one-day tour of India and he spent the summer working out what to do next.

"This hasn't happened overnight," he said. "This has been a long process. I've had the time to step away from cricket and what I want to achieve. It's been about a three- to four-month decision that I've made and finally I went with it."

Ricky Ponting said Lee, the fourth-highest wicket-taker for Australia, should be remembered as one of the game's greats. "If we all just take a minute and think about what he's put himself through in that 10 or 12 years," he said. "Running 35 metres to bowl every ball, bowling every ball at close to 150kph, and putting his heart on the line every ball he bowls, this bloke deserves a massive pat on the back."

Lee is still not sure when he will be back and is in no hurry to decide on whether he goes to India for the IPL. The security situation in India has led to the Australian Cricketers' Association combining with other player unions to demand more information from the IPL.

"It's just waiting and seeing," Lee said. "We're not in a rushed situation to make a call. We are not experts in that field." Lee has a US$900,000 contract with the Kings XI Punjab franchise and is a popular figure in India.