Cricket Australia paid rich tribute to paceman Brett Lee, who announced his international retirement on Friday, describing the veteran bowler as the “very embodiment” of the spirit of the game.
Cricket Australia chief executive officer James Sutherland said Lee would forever be remembered for not just his contribution as a wicket-taker but also as an inspiration to kids to take up the game.
“His record as a wicket-taker and leader of the attack is fantastic and speaks for itself but his resilience and ability to bounce back after numerous injuries has also been impressive,” he said.
“On top of this, and this is a significant part of his legacy, Brett inspired young Australians to play cricket and bowl fast”.
The 35-year-old Lee retired after a 13-year international career that included 76 Tests, 221 ODIs and 25 Twenty20 internationals.
He leaves as the second highest ODI wicket-taker (380) for Australia behind Glenn McGrath (seventh all-time) and one of only four Australians to take more than 300 Test wickets.
Lee has also retired from one-day domestic cricket but will still continue to play in the Twenty20 Big Bash League as well as the Indian Premier League.
National selector John Inverarity said pacer’s record speaks of his talent but his affable persona set him apart from others.
“Today one of Australia’s most outstanding fast bowlers announced his retirement. Brett Lee’s record speaks for itself.
“He first represented Australia as an exciting fast bowler in the Boxing Day Test in 1999 and played his last match played for Australia on July 7 this year.”
Including T20s, Lee took 738 international wickets and on numerous occasions also had an impact with the bat lower down the order.
“The statistics only tell part of the story. Brett has been an absolute ornament to the game; a fine player, a fierce and brave competitor, a generous opponent and one who always upheld the highest standards of sportsmanship. He has been a cricketer in every sense of the word,” Inverarity said.
“The ‘Spirit of Cricket’ has received prominence in recent years. Brett Lee has been the very embodiment of this for 13 years at the international level.
“He leaves the scene having made friends and won respect throughout the cricketing world, not only for his outstanding achievements and wholehearted efforts, but also for his generosity of spirit and readiness to help others,” he added.
Inverarity said Lee has inspired an entire generation of players.
“Australia’s young fast bowlers have greatly benefitted from his mentoring and the standards he has set in recent years.
“The international cricketing world salutes Brett Lee, thanks him for his wonderful contribution to the game and wishes him well for the future. His ready and defining smile will be missed.”