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Lee still an Ashes contender, says Aussie coach

cricket Updated: Aug 18, 2009 01:17 IST
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Brett Lee could still feature in this week's Ashes decider in London at the Oval even though he hasn't played in the rest of the series, according to Australia coach Tim Nielsen.

Fast bowler Lee, the most experienced member of Australia's attack with 310 wickets on 76 Tests, has not featured at all in the first four Ashes encounters after sustaining a side injury ahead of last month's first Test in Cardiff.

But he bowled 16 overs last weekend in Australia's final, two-day, warm-up match against the second-string England Lions at Canterbury, taking three wickets for 37 runs.

Australia, who only need a draw at the Oval, where the fifth Test starts on Thursday, to retain the Ashes, thrashed England by an innings and 80 runs in the fourth Test at Headingley to level the series at 1-1.

In that match Australia opted to recall Stuart Clark, who took three for 18 in the first innings, rather than Lee.

And with the likes of Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus all bowling well too, the chances of Australia changing their pace attack for the Ashes finale look slim.

But Nielsen said the ability of Lee, 33 in November, to reverse-swing the ball could prove important.