Friday, February 23, 2007

The Laughing Cavalier

The news that Brett Lee is going to miss the World Cup is devastating. Most obviously it’s a big setback for Australia, who have lost a crucial component of their bowling attack. Two crucial requirements in an ODI attack these days are early wickets, and the ability to put the ball in the block hole over the last ten overs. Lee provided both – Australia will miss him hugely.

Also don’t forget that he’s proved over the years to be no mug with the bat. The six he hit off Harmy at Trent Bridge is the by far the biggest I’ve ever seen. As Kevin Costner said in Bull Durham – “Something that flies that far through the air should really have a stewardess on it!”

It’s also bad news for cricket in general. In an Australian side increasingly populated by a ‘Roundhead’ tendency – Lee has always been one of the Cavaliers, and with the retirement of Shane Warne, is probably the only one left. Someone who isn’t afraid to be caught sharing a joke with an opposition batsman (before trying to knock his head off) someone who visibly enjoys playing the game, and who gives it 100 percent all the time.

Spectators will always react positively to that sort of character, regardless of the flag they’re playing under. After the Australian group-hug at the end of the Melbourne Test in December, Lee’s next stop was to the Barmy Army to give them a round of applause – presumably for the continual advice they gave him about “keeping your arm straight when you bowl” and the constant insinuations about his sexual preferences. Needless to say, Lee got a standing O from the Army in return.

Any big tournament, like the Cricket World Cup, needs big characters to fill the canvas that the occasion provides. Lee’s absence creates a huge gap.

Still, at least it gives ‘Peggy’ the chance to concentrate on his singing career!

No comments: