Sydney, July 21: Paying tribute to loyal teammate Brett Lee, former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting said the speedster’s professionalism in an age of bowling coaches and scientific workload management has been under-estimated.
Ponting saluted not only the withering speed Lee generated, but the back-breaking effort he mustered to overcome one setback after another.
“‘The professionalism he brought to the group is something that has been overlooked,”‘ The Sydney Morning Herald quoted him, as saying.
“He had certain times in his career when he didn’t have a drink for 12 months, or when he was in the gym for every minute that he wasn’t bowling, whether that was coming back from injury or just trying to keep himself as fit and strong as he possibly could, and that set a great example for other fast bowlers.
“You knew he was busting his backside every ball. Most of the time, you knew he was in a bit of pain, but he kept charging in and doing whatever I wanted him to do, whatever any captain wanted him to do,” Ponting said.
Ponting’s second reason for wanting to acknowledge Lee’s contribution is that their friendship stretches beyond cricket.
“Binga and I have had a lot of time together over the years and you become very close. You know with Binga, he’s as loyal as anyone I’ve ever played with,” he said.
They had their on-field arguments, too, Ponting said, adding that both men moved on quickly from the on-field disagreement between the fast bowler and his skipper in Mohali in 2008.
“I was right there by Binga’s side through that tour. We had some really personal one-on-one meetings when we first got on the tour as to how he was going and there were times when he wasn’t sure if he wanted or needed to be there, but in talking to him about it we decided he was going to be able to give it his best,” Ponting said.
Having witnessed from close range Lee’s most devastating spells, Ponting said he knew he had the rare ability to unnerve his opponents with pace, then disarm them with a smile. (ANI)