Sydney: It’s official, I have retired from international cricket! Thanks for all your love and support. It’s been an amazing 13 years — so tweeted Australian fast bowler Brett Lee on social networking service Friday morning to tell the world he is quitting cricket.
The 35-year-old paceman, who retired from Test cricket in February 2010 after taking 310 wickets in 76 matches, continued playing for New South Wales (NSW) and Australia in one-day matches and in the Twenty20 arena.
Lee will, however, play in the domestic Twenty20 tournament Big Bash as well as in his favourite Indian Premier League, reports Australian media.
“It has been a dream career, I guess, 13 years at the top. I couldn’t ask for much more,” Lee said on Channel Nine.
Lee said he had planned to end his career after the upcoming World Twenty20 tournament in Sri Lanka, but Friday morning when he woke up after a restless night, he felt it was time to go.
“Thirteen years, Friday the 13th, it’s appropriate for me to go,” Lee said.
“I woke up this morning after not much sleep and it’s the right time to go. It just came to me this morning and I just felt it’s the right time to leave the game.”
“It’s been in the back of my mind for a few months.”
He said he knew his time was up after suffering his “first proper muscle tear” in 20 years of cricket.
Lee has had several major injuries in recent years and was forced home from the one-day series in England early last week after suffering a calf injury.
“At 35 now I’m not Benjamin Button. I’m not going the other way,” Lee said.
“It’s my time to walk away and let these young guys build their careers and step into the spotlight.”
Lee’s teenage NSW teammate Pat Cummins said: “It’s a testament to Brett’s ability and athleticism that he has been able to remain one of the world’s best and fastest bowlers for such a long time.”
Lee said he was happy to have played “in a fantastic era, playing with the likes of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist, Steve and Mark Waugh, heroes of mine growing up”.
“It’s now stage two of my life coming up, so I’m pretty happy and pretty excited.”
“My holiday will be at home, I’m sick of being away.”
Lee pointed to Australia’s World Cup victory in 2003 and taking a Test hat-trick as career highlights he would savour, but said one of his fondest memories was Australia’s Ashes Test loss by two runs at Edgbaston in 2005.
“Even though we lost by two runs, that’s still one of my favourite Test matches because of the spirit in which it was played,” he said.
His longevity in the game was something he hoped cricket fans remembered him for, he said.
“I feel like I’ve had more comeback sequels than Rambo.”
“If anything, people can look back and know I gave it my best. You can look at records but to me what I’m proud of is my longevity.”
He and Pakistan’s Shoaib Akhtar were rated the fastest bowlers in the world.
He began his Test career in the MCG Boxing Day Test of 1999 and played his final Test at the same venue in 2008.
His journey started in the under-10s for the Oak Flats Rats on the south coast of New South Wales and, after overcoming serious back injuries, was fast-tracked into the Australia A side before making his Test debut against India in the Boxing Day Test of 1999-2000.
He took a wicket in his first over when he bowled Indian opener Sadagoppan Ramesh and took 5/47 from 18 overs.
Lee quickly established himself as a Test match regular and became a popular member of the Australian team, attracting massive endorsement deals due to his clean-cut image.
He was a member of the 2003 World Cup-winning team in South Africa but was forced out of the 2007 tournament in the West Indies due to an ankle injury. Lee continued representing Australia in the shorter formats after retiring from the Test arena two years ago.
“I look back to when I was 19, and, while I hope [my injuries] never happen to anyone else, it’s a fact that when you bowl fast, injuries happen,” he said this week. “You have to deal with it and you have to learn from what’s happened because it makes you a stronger person. I have a saying ‘If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space’ – it means have a crack.”
He also claimed 380 wickets in 221 One-Day Internationals, becoming just the second Australian behind Glenn McGrath to take 300 or more Test and one-day scalps. He has 28 wickets from 25 Twenty20 appearances for Australia.