Put to the Test

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - DEBBIE SCHIPP

IT’S a mark of the man that crick­eter Brett Lee’s best New Year Test mem­ory does not in­volve his light­ning- quick bowl­ing. In­stead it con­cerns then Aus­tralian Test cap­tain Steve Waugh.

Un­der pres­sure and out of form, Waugh an­swered his crit­ics in the 2003 Ashes Test with a stun­ning cen­tury achieved on the last ball on day two.

‘‘ He went into the match un­der ex­treme pres­sure, and as a great cap­tain, as the ice­man un­der pres­sure, pulled off his hun­dred,’’ Lee re­mem­bers.

‘‘ To score a four off the last ball of the day and he smashed it – it’s the loud­est I have ever heard the Syd­ney Cricket Ground roar.’’

Lee ( above) would have been next in to bat had Waugh fallen that day.

This year, when the New Year Test starts on Tues­day, Lee will be wait­ing in the wings, but this time as bound­ary com­men­ta­tor and host of WIN’S

The Cricket Show dur­ing the lunch break in the cricket.

Pre­sent­ing for WIN has proved a per­fect recipe for Lee, who stepped down from Test cricket duty more than two years ago to con­cen­trate on the one- day and Twenty20 forms of the game.

The tele­vi­sion du­ties for Test matches fit per­fectly with Lee’s train­ing and play­ing sched­ule this sea­son and mean he still gets his ‘‘ fix’’.

‘‘ I don’t miss play­ing Test cricket – I loved ev­ery sin­gle mo­ment of play­ing it, but I haven’t missed be­ing out there.

‘‘ It’s prob­a­bly be­cause I’m play­ing one- day­ers and Twen­ty20s,’’ Lee says.

‘‘ And the gig with WIN has worked out a treat. Nei­ther gets in the way of the other.’’

But that doesn’t make an Aus­tralian Test loss hurt any less, he con­cedes. ‘‘ It’s nerve- rack­ing watch­ing it un­fold,’’ he says.

This week will be no ex­cep­tion as Lee and his WIN TV sta­ble­mates, led by crick­et­ing leg­end Richie Be­naud, move into the SCG for the Sec­ond Test against In­dia. Lee has a soft spot for the SCG and the New Year Test.

‘‘ It’s my home ground, and a his­toric time of the cricket year,’’ he says.

‘‘ This is the Test ev­ery­one wants to watch. It’s a great venue, the city usu­ally turns the weather on and we’ve seen some awe­some bat­tles there.’’

Does he ex­pect to see Waugh- like hero­ics from an Aus­tralian Test side that has been mix­ing its form?

‘‘ The team has been un­der a bit of pres­sure re­cently be­cause we have lost a few guys through in­jury, but most im­por­tantly we have a great squad and a lot of guys still in the wings wait­ing,’’ he says. Lee’s pri­mary role is co- host­ing

The Cricket Show with Michael Slater, and he has en­joyed a steep learn­ing curve since tak­ing up the spot last month.

‘‘ It’s a lot of fun. It’s the big­gest taste of tele­vi­sion that I’ve had,’’ he says.

‘‘ Co- host­ing, lead­ing the con­ver­sa­tion rather than re­spond­ing to it, is edge- of-your- seat stuff for me.

‘‘ I feel like I’m im­prov­ing from day to day so I’m happy.

‘‘ The fun­ni­est thing about the tele­vi­sion work isn’t that I’ll be go­ing back out to play Twenty20 or one- day­ers among the play­ers,’’ he laughs.

‘‘ It’s know­ing the guys in the commentary box will be com­men­tat­ing on me. I’m not ex­pect­ing any favours.

‘‘ I’m sure I’ll get sledged, but that’s all part of it.’’

SEC­OND TEST: AUS­TRALIA v IN­DIA,

WIN, Tues­day, 10am

THE CRICKET SHOW,

airs dur­ing the lunch break

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