Lucky to make a comeback in Melbourne
It is absolutely wonderful to be back with the team after a two-month hiatus. The ball is coming out nicely from my hand and my body seems to have recovered, writes Brett LeeUpdated: Dec 25, 2003 11:10 IST
It is absolutely wonderful to be back with the team after a two-month hiatus. The ball is coming out nicely from my hand and my body seems to have recovered completely. I would be the first to admit that I did not think the scoreline would be 1-0 in India's favour when I rejoined the side, but that's the way it is and I'm committed to getting things evened out in Melbourne.
Plenty is being written in the press about my comeback game and whether I will be able to stop the Indian batsmen who have been going great guns so far in this series. I don't think so much has been written about me before any Test, and it is a new situation for me in that sense. However, I don't feel any pressure because that's something that only I can put on myself. Right now, I would like to view the Boxing Day Test as a tremendous challenge rather than a high-pressure situation.
I will be having the added responsibility of leading the new ball attack, and this makes me feel even more eager to get out there in the middle. When I was chosen to play for Australia, Stephen (Waugh) had said that my job was to bowl as fast as I could and to take wickets. On Boxing Day, that will remain my brief.
While I have not played any Test cricket against the Indians since my debut series, I have had good success against them in one-day cricket. Bowling in Tests is not very different from one-dayers so I am confident that the strategy that has worked in one-dayers will work in Tests as well. The fact that I am not involved in the Buchanan letter issue also helps me a great deal as I come to Mebourne with a clear head and complete focus on what lies ahead and not what has gone by. Moreover, I was not involved in any of the last three Tests that India has won against us, so in a way, those disappointments are not part of my personal memories.
I'm looking forward to the next two games with a great deal of confidence, knowing that if I execute my plans well, rewards will follow. I also consider myself lucky that the venue for my return is the MCG. In the past the WACA wicket in Perth was considered the fastest wicket in Australia, but of late it is the Melbourne wicket that has become pretty quick.
This time round, there seems to be decent bounce and carry in the wicket, and that would suit all the pacers involved in the game.
Blokes like Bichel and Williams have done well even on the placid track at Adelaide so I expect them to do even better in Melbourne.
The one to watch out for is Bichel because he has traditionally bowled well at the MCG. He was getting good pace and swing to take four wickets in Adelaide, and looks to be getting better with every game.
As far as the Indians are concerned, it's interesting to see the focus diverted from Sachin Tendulkar to Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman.
This will only help the little master in the long run. Speaking of the short-term, I know he is due, and we can only hope that he does not get a big score in the remaining two Tests. Hopefully, he will keep that reserved for the next series India plays. As far as the bowling goes, I spoke about Ajit and his improved consistency in my last article.
I must hasten to add that young Irfan Pathan impressed me as well. I have not seen much of him because I was involved in a first-class game during the Adelaide Test, but the little I saw of him did impress me. He looks like he's got the goods, and at his age, his pace can only increase.
This Boxing Day Test is going to be really special for me because I made my debut on the same day at the same venue against the same opposition four years ago. Today, I know my responsibilities have increased a great deal especially in the absence of Glenn and Jason. I hope that I can shoulder this responsibility.
First Published: Dec 25, 2003 01:39 IST