Put to the Test
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