Australia have always been a land of fast bowlers. Aussie bowlers were fiery, tight and always ready to terrorize the oppositions with their amazing bowling skills. Whether it was Dennis Lillee or Glenn Mcgrath, Craig McDermott or Jason Gillespie, each and every bowler coming from the Australian camp was indeed a legend.
But one bowler who consistently bowled at the same frightening speeds throughout his career was none other than Brett Lee. There are a lot of pace bowlers on the international circuit, but there are very few who put ‘fast’ in fast bowling and Lee was one of those.
Lee was a pure fast bowler. You cannot call him a medium-fast or fast-medium bowler, those adjectives did not apply to him. He was a potent weapon in Australia’s armory during their glory days of the 2000s. If facing Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne was not threatening enough, the batsmen of the opposition team rarely had the luxury of taking some time off as they had to show their skills against the raw pace of Lee.
He was a great cricketer since the start of his career. His exceptional performances in the Under-17 & Under-19 matches made him an interesting prospect. His match-winning performances earned him a lot of accolades and scholarships. But his moment of glory came when he got a national call-up in 1999.
Lee started his international career with a bang. He got picked up in the squad for the first Test against Team India and what happened next was something magical. The fast bowler picked up a five-wicket haul in his debut match and became the first Australian bowler to take 5 wickets on debut. He picked up 13 wickets in the opening two Tests at the low average of 14.15. The speedster took a total of 42 wickets in his opening three series, the most by any Australian bowler in the seven matches he played.
In the first two years of the game, Lee averaged less than 20 with the ball, which was enough to show the world that a legend has made his way into the game of cricket.
Although he mostly played a supporting role to Mcgrath and Gillespie, his steady maturity as a pacer soon made him a ‘gun bowler’. Lee enjoyed bowling on the grandest stage of them all – the World Cup where his wicket-taking abilities used to be at its peak.
This guy was so quick that his fastest ball in One-Day Internationals was clocked at 161.1 km/hr against New Zealand.
When it comes to the shorter format of the game, Lee was ranked by the ICC as the No. 1 ODI bowler in the year 2006. His bowling strike rate of around 30 puts him amongst the most incisive in this form of the game.
There are many memorable and unforgettable moments from Binga’s career that everyone can recount. But two that stand out in everybody’s minds are – Lee’s innings in the 2005 Ashes at Edgbaston and striking Kallis on his helmet with a bouncer.
The Test match at Edgbaston in 2005 Ashes is considered to be the ‘greatest match in the history of Test cricket’. Australia lost the match by just 2 runs despite a defiant inning of 43 (not out). He fell to his knees on the ground and could not lift his head up because he was unable to take his team to the victory. That shows what this game meant to him.
The other memory is when later that year, in a series against the Rainbow Nation, he hit Jacques Kallis on the helmet with a bouncer and immediately ran over to him to check if he was alright. But, the next ball was a yorker that crashed into the stumps and sent Kallis back to the pavilion. This incident showcased what kind of player was Lee. He was a top human being who was also in complete control of his game.
His international career was amazing but just like every fast bowler, his career was also full of injuries. He suffered from a long list of injuries that blighted his career, including stress fractures, ankle injuries, side strains, and even a broken foot. These injuries halted his performance a lot. Many experts still believe that if he was not prone to so many injuries, he would have been one of the highest wicket-takers in the history of cricket.
While his bowling was unquestionably what defined him as a cricketer. Lee’s batting prowess was grossly underrated. He has 5 half-centuries to his name in the Test format while 3 fifties in the shorter format of the game. Blessed with the ability to wield the long handle, his game also had a fairly strong technique to work with. He would help the Aussies to produce some priceless runs down the order by playing some amazing cameos even in adverse situations.
Lee announced his retirement from all formats of the international cricket on 12 July 2012. He also declined to renew his contract with his home state New South Wales, but he continued to play Twenty20 matches for several seasons after. As of now, he has taken retirement from all forms of the game and is currently working as a commentator for various broadcasting channels.
Lee has been nothing but an amazing talent since the start. He took his game to the top and made a name for himself. Brett will always be known as one of the most lethal fast bowlers in the history of cricket and also one of the nicest human beings to have played the sport.
‘Binga’ is truly a LEGEND OF THE GAME.
Here are some records made by Brett ‘Binga’ Lee:
Lee was the first player in Twenty20 International cricket to take a hat-trick
He is the second fastest Aussie ODI player to take 100 wickets. Lee reached the milestone in his 55th match. He is fifth on the world list behind Mitchell Starc (52 matches), Saqlain Mushtaq (53 matches) & Shane Bond (54 matches)
Lee is the fastest bowler to take 300 ODI wickets. He achieved this feat in 171 ODI matches.
Binga is the second highest wicket-taker in ODIs, with 380 wickets.
About the Author
Sports Journalist by profession, a Cricket Fanatic by passion. Aayush Sharma has been following the game of cricket since childhood and considers Sachin Tendulkar as his idol. When in free time, he loves to read books or go out and play some gully cricket with friends. For him, Tennis ace Roger Federer and F1 Legend Michael Schumacher are the only sportspersons that reach the level of Tendulkar