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Control the line, pitch will do the rest

The Indians pad up for the first Test with their batting not yet off the blocks, if the warm-up games are anything to go by, writes Brett Lee.

india Updated: Dec 04, 2003 01:08 IST
Brett Lee
Brett Lee

The Indians pad up for the first Test with their batting not yet off the blocks, if the warm-up games are anything to go by. However, I would not read much into the scorecards. Most Test players save their best for the big games, and starting on Thursday, the true test for the Indian batsmen begins.

The Gabba pitch can be a challenging venue for visitors as there is plenty of assistance for pacers, particularly on the first day. The key for batsmen is to survive the first day, after which it becomes a great batting track. The Indians will also be aware of this, which is why I expect them to play three pacers.

I got glimpses of Irfan Pathan during India's second game, and he looked pretty nippy and handy for a teenager. Gabba is a great place to debut for a young pace bowler, but it is unlikely that he will get the nod ahead of the established bowlers.

The key to bowling at Brisbane is to be controlled because if you get it in the right place the pitch will do the rest. I have seen many bowlers in the past who have got carried away by the grass on the pitch.

As a result, they try too hard and end up under-performing. Bowling well within oneself is the best way to maximise results, and I'm sure that's something Bruce Reid, India's recently-recruited bowling coach, will be telling Zaheer Khan and Co.

Any face-off between India and Australia reaches its most exciting moments when India's star batsmen take on our bowlers.

As I have mentioned, the Indians have not got off to good starts in the warm-up games, but that often has no bearing no the real thing - Test cricket. I'm sure the batsmen would have taken on board what they have learnt from their time in the middle, and we might well see a much-improved performance from most of the Indians.

The big story during the run-up to the Test series has quite obviously been Steve's decision to retire at the end of this series. I owe everything I learnt at the start of my career to him. He has been a great leader, an unparalleled motivator and above all, a superb human. It was a privilege for me to earn my stripes under his captaincy, and the fact that he goes out in such good form speaks volumes of his ability.

Outside Test cricket, I will also miss his presence as state captain, a responsibility he carried with great pride. I ‘ve always felt that one of the best things about Steve was the way he never ignored domestic cricket, and he was always involved at the grassroot level.

When Steve was omitted from the one-day side, he channelised his energies into playing for NSW, and over the last couple of seasons we have won plenty of tournaments under him. I'm sure the team will ensure that he gets a winning send-off.

Bowling at the Gabba is something that all fast bowlers, particularly Aussies relish. Perhaps that's what makes my absence doubly disappointing.

The body is feeling great, and I am well ahead of my recovery schedule, but the selectors wanted me to get a four-day game in before I got back to Test cricket.

Right now, I am looking ahead to playing the second Test, but if I don't get a long game in before that, perhaps the third would be a more realistic target. MCG is another wicket that I enjoy bowling on, so I'm looking forward to it.

First Published: Dec 04, 2003 00:27 IST