Smiling assassin Brett Lee calls it day

Sydney: One of the most fearsome pace bowlers in modern era who considered India his second home, Australia`s Brett Lee today announced retirement from international cricket ending an injury-ravaged career that lasted 13 years.

The 35-year-old affable pacer, who retired from Test cricket in 2010, had been most recently laid low by a calf injury. He will, however, continue to play in Australia`s Twenty20 Big Bash and the Indian Premier League.

Lee, a part-time bass guitarist who enjoys a huge fan-base in India, said he could not carry on anymore given the suffering his body has endured.

"I guess you ask yourself a lot of questions when you`ve been injured or been through a tough time. It`s been the last two or three nights I have thought about it a lot. I woke up this morning and I knew this was the right day to do it," Lee told reporters at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

"In a team environment you have to be committed 100 per cent, both mentally and physically. Looking at the next two months I just didn`t have that desire any more. It wouldn`t be fair on me or the rest of the team if I was to go over there with that attitude – not lack of commitment, but you just get to a point in your life when you decide enough is enough," he said.

Lee had initially planned to retire after the upcoming World Twenty20 tournament in Sri Lanka.
Rated among the fastest bowlers in modern era, the ever-smiling six-footer took 380 wickets in 221 one-day internationals and 28 wickets from 25 Twenty20 appearances for Australia.

Lee said he was happy to have played "in a fantastic era, playing with the likes of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist, Steve and Mark Waugh, heroes of mine growing up".

"It`s now stage two of my life coming up so I`m pretty happy and pretty excited. My holiday will be at home, I`m sick of being away."

Lee retired from Test cricket in February 2010 after taking 310 wickets in 76 matches. He continued playing for Australia in one-day matches and in the Twenty20 arena.

Interestingly, his Test career began against India, a country he frequents for reasons beyond cricket. It was a sensational debut in 1999 as Lee grabbed seven wickets – five in the first innings itself to announce his arrival at the international stage.

But the promise he held out at the start of his career was hampered by frustrating injury breakdowns. The speedster underwent multiple surgeries on his right ankle besides enduring shoulder problems.

However, that didn`t affect his commercial appeal either in Australia or India, where he collaborated with the legendary Asha Bhonsle for a hit song and made a cameo appearance as himself in a Bollywood movie.

He was a member of the 2003 World Cup-winning team in South Africa but missed the next edition in the West Indies due to an ankle injury.

Lee`s decision to retire leaves him just one wicket shy of Glenn McGrath`s Australian record of 381 ODI scalps. In fact, In nine Tests following McGrath`s departure, Lee clinched 58 wickets at 21.55 and also won the Allan Border Medal in 2008.

"The great run must end. It was going to be post-World Cup (Twenty20). We had spoken about that with the selectors and that was the time I was going to walk away from the game. But I woke up this morning and just felt like I was ready. It was time to go," he said.

Lee said under Michael Clarke Australian cricket seems to be heading in the right direction. "What I can say about the Australian cricket team right now is that we are guided by a terrific guy in Michael Clarke," Lee said.

"I think he`s been a terrific captain. He`s got a great cricket brain. We`ve just got to back the guys we`ve got around us and realise that we don`t make superstars overnight. We can`t expect guys to go out there and get five-for in their first match, or a hundred. The guys need to take time to get used to their spot. There`s a lot of unfair pressure coming from all angles on the players these days. Pick a group and try to stick with them I reckon is the best advice."

Injuries wrecked havoc on Lee`s career but he made light of it stating that he`d had "more sequels or comebacks than Rambo". "It may be a little bit crazy to be a fast bowler, to put your body on the line every single time. I`ve always said that if you`re not living on the edge you`re taking up too much space. That`s the way I`ve always played my cricket," Lee said.

"If I`ve done something I`ve done it pretty well (injuries). This calf tear is the first proper torn muscle I`ve had in 20 years of cricket, so I can`t really ask my body for much more than that. There`s still the Big Bash, there`s the IPL. I`m not totally losing my cricket thrill or the chance to play cricket. Hopefully I will get the opportunity to play here (the SCG) again. Obviously it won`t be for the Australian cricket team, which will be sad. But I know I`ve made that right call."