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Umpiring caused Sydney furore: Lee

Australian pace spearhead feels the Sydney Test furore was a result of "contentious umpiring" and not "bad" Australian behaviour.

cricket Updated: Jan 23, 2008 15:18 IST

Australian pace spearhead feels the Sydney Test furore that almost derailed India's cricket tour Down Under was a result of "contentious umpiring" and the world champions' much-cricticised behaviour was in no way responsible for the controversy.

In an e-mail interview with PTI from Adelaide, Lee emphasised that the nail-biting finish of the Test added to the bitterness that was also attributed to Australian players' "win at all costs" aggressive attitude.

It required peace talks, brokered by the ICC, between rival captains Ricky Ponting and Anil Kumble to diffuse the spiralling tension

"Whilst I don't feel we conducted ourselves poorly, the closeness of the match coupled with a few contentious umpiring decisions magnified the issues and these may have a been 'the straw that broke the camel's back'. Hence, it snowballed into a crisis," Lee asserted.

West Indian veteran Steve Bucknor, who stood along with Englishman Mark Benson in the ill-tempered match, was subsequently sacked from the series after India's complaint against his poor umpiring.

Lee felt the acrimonious episode still had a few positives to offer as it made the two teams more understanding of each other.

"The aftermath of the Sydney Test was disappointing. If I can see a positive out of it I am sure the two teams have more of an appreciation of (each other's) cultures," he pointed out.

The 31-year-old speedster, who is an active campaigner for the ICC's Spirit of Cricket initiative, said except for a few incidents he has always tried to remain calm even in pressure situations and avoids getting into any verbal altercation with opposition teams for the sake of his own game.

"I have lost my cool but I am pleased to say not all that often. It is a game and I enjoy playing it. Every now and again someone plays a good shot, there is no harm in acknowledging that," he said.

"I enjoy playing and I hope that comes through on television," Lee added.

The speedster said he met Anil Kumble and the rest of the Indian team after the visitors' historic win in the third Test in Perth and felt it helped him in getting to know them better.

"I caught up with Anil and the boys in their dressing room after their win in Perth and got to know these guys pretty well," he recalled.

Lee, who has inculcated a sizeable fan following in India by learning a bit of hindi, endorsing products like American watch giants Timex and singing a duet with the legendary Asha Bhonsle, said though he gets along well with the entire Indian team, he is particularly fond of master batsman Sachin Tendulkar and stylish right-hander VVS Laxman's company.

"I enjoy (the company of) Sachin, Laxman and (Rahul) Dravid. They are good blokes and I have spent a lot of time with them off the field, particularly Sachin and Laxman. It would be fair to say we enjoy each others' company," he said.