Ashes most exciting tour I've been on, says Lee
Australia fast bowler Brett Lee said his personal on-field battle with England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff had been one of the highlights of the "most exciting tour I've been on".
One of the abiding images of the Ashes encounter so far was when paceman Flintoff, who had pounded Lee with short-pitched deliveries, went up to console him after the Australian's gutsy 43 not out so nearly denied England the two-run win that levelled the series at 1-1.
The pair weren't giving an inch either in the fourth Test at Trent Bridge where Lee bowled Flintoff with a brilliant delivery on Sunday in the second innings for 26 but only after the Lancashire all-rounder's maiden Ashes hundred of 102 had created the platform for what was ultimately a tense three-wicket win.
"I've really enjoyed batting and bowling especially against a guy like Andrew Flintoff," Lee told reporters at Australia's hotel on Monday.
"We've always known he's a world-class player. I think he's surprised us the way he's batted. He's been so aggressive, so positive," added Lee who has taken 19 wickets in the series.
"A bloke who can hit massive sixes, play as a number three batsman would play, and then come out and bowl the way he has in the past four Test matches, is amazing."
"He's a supreme athlete, he's definitely one of a kind and it's great that England have found that. They probably could have found him after we left the shores of England and went back home but I can't give 'Freddie' enough raps, he's a quality player."
After Australia's convincing 239 run first Test win at Lord's the remainder of the series has produced a trio of thrilling finishes with England squeezing home at Edgbaston and Lee playing his part in a last-wicket stand in the third Test at Old Trafford that salvaged a draw.
And then came Trent Bridge where England almost failed to reach their target of 129 in the face of Shane Warne's four for 31 and Lee's three for 51.
"The last three matches have been the best three Test matches I have ever played in, the most amazing three finishes," Lee said.
England, who'd won their previous five Test campaigns heading into this Ashes contest have been well beaten in their last eight Ashes series.
"I always knew from ball one of the one-dayers we were up against a world-class side," said Lee.
"The last two Test matches we haven't deserved to win."
Australia have been plagued by no-balls throughout this series, bowling 25 alone in England's first innings 477 at Trent Bridge and Lee said they'd struggled with the undulating nature of many English grounds.
"When you are playing on a ground that's got such a gradient when you are running in, it's a bit like bowling up a ramp. It's not something we've adjusted too as quickly as we could have."
Australia, who play a two-day game against Essex starting on Saturday before the fifth Test begins at The Oval on September 8, didn't have the best of luck with umpiring decisions in Nottingham.
But Lee who saw his huge lbw shout on Sunday against Matthew Hoggard rejected by veteran West Indies umpire Steve Bucknor said he sympathised with the officials.
"I asked Steve Bucknor 'was it missing?' and he said 'no he hit it. And I said 'but if he didn't hit it was it out? and he said 'yes'.
"But seeing the replay it hit his foot but was missing leg-stump so it wasn't out and wasn't meant to be out."
"It happens. He has got 0.3 of a second to make up his mind. They've got a very tough job. I'm not going to sit here and criticise any umpire," said Lee.