Viv Richards, who captained some of the most fearsome fast bowlers of all time, says Brett Lee is the equal of the West Indies quicks of the 1980s and early 90s. On Sunday against West Indies Lee picked up his 300th one-day international wicket, reaching the milestone in fewer games than any other player and beating the previous record-holder Waqar Younis by 15 matches.
Over the past few years Lee has impressed Richards, who believes Jeff Thomson was the fastest bowler he ever faced and was at the helm of a team that included Joel Garner, Michael Holding, Curtly Ambrose, Malcolm Marshall and Courtney Walsh. "He's certainly up there with those guys," Richards told AAP. "It is hard to assess what took place from then to now but I think when he's called upon to do it, he's just as good as any."
As well as his speed, which is regularly in the mid-150kph region and occasionally breaks the 160kph barrier, Lee's endurance has been noted by Richards. "What I have been impressed more than anything in Brett Lee is his fitness," Richards said.
"He's one of the fittest bowlers that I've ever seen in a long, long time. And not just when he's got the ball in hand, if you look at him on the field as well he's just 100%, saving fours, and saving two and things like that."
Lee has carried a significant fast-bowling load in the Caribbean and at times during the Test series was clearly close to exhaustion. With the five-match ODI series already in the bag Australia may take the opportunity to rest Lee for the remaining two games, with Stuart Clark ready to step into the limited-overs side.