My life in cricket – Brett Lee, former Australia fast bowler

The 2005 Ashes was my favourite Test series and the second Test at Edgbaston is one of my favourite games, even though we lost by two runs.

People think you have to score a hundred or take a five-for for it to be your favourite game but that’s not true.

I struggled as hard as I could batting with Warney and Kasper (Michael Kasprowicz) and to get down from 107 needed to two runs was a hell of an effort.

I still remember Freddie Flintoff coming up and putting an arm around me like it was yesterday.

Someone pointed out to me recently that it was ten years ago. God, that’s gone quickly!

I still remember watching the final wicket from the non-striker’s end and then you hear afterwards that his glove was off the bat and he shouldn’t have been out.

But the way I saw it, watching down there with umpire Billy Bowden – you’ve got to give it out.

Of course I’m disappointed because I would have loved to have won but we wouldn’t still be talking about it today if it had gone for four leg-byes. It was just meant to be.

A real turning point in my career came in December 1999 playing for New South Wales against Western Australia when I probably bowled the quickest I’ve bowled in my life.

I broke Jo Angel’s arm, not that I’m proud of that, but I was watching the ball go over Brad Haddin’s head to the sightscreen at the WACA – a real quick, fast, bouncy wicket that suited my style of bowling.

My body felt good – I had that aggression, I had that pace and that was when I felt I was ready for Test cricket. Later that month I was chosen for Australia by Steve Waugh.

I had a really good start to my Test career – I probably should have retired after seven games!  I took 49 wickets and averaged about 16.

But you know through the stats of the game that unless you’re a freak of nature, it’s going to come back down to earth, which it eventually did.

With the Ashes in 2009, I was injured for the first three Tests but I was ready to play the fourth and fifth Tests and I would have loved to have been selected.

I wasn’t picked but I got the opportunity to play in an ODI at Lord’s afterwards where I got a five-fer and that was me going ‘I was ready to play in the Test series’.

But I’ve got no hard feelings – the selectors would have taken a big risk on me not knowing if I would get through a Test match with my side injury.

I would have loved to play more Test cricket but in the end, you either get dropped or you get that golden tap where you have to walk away.

I wasn’t going to get picked again, so I decided to walk away at the start of 2010 with a bit of dignity.

I carried on playing t20 cricket for a while afterwards in the IPL and the Big Bash – I wanted to go out on a high and I wanted to go out on my own terms.

Those final years playing t20 was some of the most fun I had. There was still that pressure and that will to go out there and succeed, though.

To me, it’s not about wickets or World Cups – the thing that I’m most proud of is that I got a chance to play for 20 years and bowl over 150km/h for 20 years.

That means my body stuck with me the whole time and I had the will to keep bowling at that pace. I never wanted to  bowl 130km/ h seam up – that didn’t excite me.

This piece originally featured in The Cricket Paper on Friday July 24, 2015

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