Veteran Lee still feels the need for speed

Last Updated: Mar 10, 2011, 19:06 PM IST

Bangalore: Brett Lee may be the oldest member of Australia`s fast-bowling attack at the World Cup but despite being 34, he is not willing to compromise with his speed and aggression.

Last week, Australian captain, Ricky Ponting, described the speed merchant as the glue that held the team`s pace attack, which includes Mitchell Johnson and Shaun Tait, together.

Lee, while appreciating his skipper`s compliment, said he is confident that he has plenty of speed left in his armoury and enjoys "seeing the stumps fly".

"I`m still out to bowl fast. I said about six months ago that if I couldn`t hit that 150kph (93mph) mark I wouldn`t want to be playing cricket, which is the truth. I enjoy the pace, I enjoy seeing the stumps fly. To me that`s the exciting part of cricket, but obviously here on the subcontinent, where the wickets aren`t really conducive to fast bowling, you have to try a few more things," Lee said on Sunday.

Johnson is the side`s leading wicket-taker with eight, Tait has six, while Lee has taken three in the event so far.

Lee said the defending champions have got the best bowling combination, which other World Cup sides will find hard to match, but also acknowledged the Indian attack as "very strong".

"As far as who has got the best bowling attack I would think Australia is up there. We have a very strong pace attack. We are very comfortable and happy how it is going in the tournament.”

“It’s good that we are not coming in as favourites but we still haven`t played our best cricket. In all three facets of the game, we need to improve a bit, the way we are going its important to peak at the right time.”

"Indian bowling attack is very strong. The way they are bowling in the death overs, with the slower balls it is very hard for the batsmen," said Lee, who has taken 195 ODI wickets since making his debut 11 years ago.”

Lee, who retired from Test cricket last year following a series of career-threatening injuries, remains an important member of Australia`s World Cup campaign, with vast experience of local conditions from previous sub-continent outings and playing in the Indian Premier League.

"Now I know my bowling better than I ever have. It doesn`t mean you`re going to get five wickets every game, but you`re more likely to be a bit smarter. As batsmen are working out new shots, we as bowlers have to be adapting as well. It`s about fine tuning your trade and being a bit smarter.”

"Over here on the subcontinental wickets, which aren`t really conducive to fast bowling, you have to learn to try a few more things and those types of change-ups. They`re the things that have definitely been helping me over the last six or seven months," he said.

Lee was full of praise for star batsman Mike Hussey, who has been called in place of injured paceman Doug Bollinger, describing him as "Mr Cricket".

"If one person is not in the side, we get another player. Now we got Mr Cricket, it is great to see Mike Hussey back in the side. It is a dream come true for a lot of players to just what Hussey brings to the side, not only with his professionalism and the way he goes about with his business. He is 35 and is pretty energetic and it’s great to have Hussy back," he said.

On missing his counterpart Bollinger, ruled out of the tournament following an ankle injury, Lee said, "It would have been great to have Dougie in the side but obviously it is pretty sad not to have him. He brought a lot into the side as a left-armer with his aggression, height and his pace."

The veteran speedster rated the Australian spin attack in the tournament as formidable.

"Our spin attack is very strong with Jason Krejza around. And on slow turning wickets we have David Hussey, who has been very successful on Australian slow wickets and he can hold up one end.”

"Then we have got Michael Clarke, who has been effective in Tests and have got five-for in ODI, he is a very capable bowler. The way we are playing spin, I think we are improving with each game," he said.

His role in the World Cup is to be the steadiest of the three pace bowlers, and Lee said, although all three of them could hit 150kph, each offers Ponting something different in subcontinent conditions.

"I think there are three guys who can bowl around 150 km/h. But our roles are different though we all bowl fast Mitch (Johnson) has a different role and I try and do what is required of me, try and lead from the front.”

"I think there is a great balance with Shane Watson also chipping in, then there is Krejza. Look, I have been impressed with what I have seen of Jason and he impressed back in 2008 as well," he added.

Lee said he is enjoying his stay in India which is his "second home".

"I love the Indian culture. I know `thoda thoda` Hindi. I have come to India 50 to 60 times now so it`s a bit like my second home. I think people have graced me here and I really feel proud about that. You are always welcome here and that`s the Indian culture and great hospitality. I think it`s the best in the world," he said.

Lee also seemed satisfied with the security arrangements.

"The security here, in Bangladesh and in Colombo has been brilliant, outstanding and thorough. Every single time we hop in the bus everything is been checked thoroughly. And there is a lot of police when we are in the ground."

"We have got right people in charge here on the ground and the hotel. We are getting security updates every single time and if there are any potential threats we will know about it and will be dealt appropriately. At this point of time all are happy the way things are around," he said.

PTI