The only downside to the demolition job performed on New Zealand by the Aussies during their first round encounter in the Champions Trophy tournament, was the way in which both Brett Lee and Shane Watson, appeared to completely lose the plot in cleaning up the New Zealand tail.
Unfortunately, both Lee and Watson appeared to become very frustrated when they were unable to dislodge the Kiwi tail-enders and as a result, the Kiwis were able to better their total by at least 50 runs, before the experience of Shane Warne, was brought on to bring a halt to proceedings. With just two deliveries, Warne was able to put paid to the tail and seal the victory for Australia. With the last wicket falling from the second delivery of his only over for the day, after almost claiming a scalp with his first ball. Something neither Watson or Lee appeared capable of at the time, much to the amusement of Kiwi’s Shane Bond and Kyle Mills.
Brett Lee, once again resorted to chasing the batsmen around the crease with his deliveries, in a fashion similar to what we seen during the Super Challenge series against Pakistan in Australia earlier this year, rather than focus on bowling at the stumps. The frustration Lee shows when not able to quickly dismiss a batsman with his express pace, seems to easily dominate his personality and commonsense. He quickly loses focus on the job at hand and has a tendancy to attack the batsmen with ineffective deliveries, that on most occassions have no chance of ending in a wicket.
Sure, fast bowlers are meant to attack and intimidate the batsman with a variety of deliveries, mental aggression and pace, but Lee seems more intent on intimidating tail-enders running away from the stumps with balls pitched at the body, rather than knocking over the stumps with a well placed delivery. This practice seems to be counter productive to whatever it is Lee is trying to achieve and at least in the latest game, caused Lee to suffer the humiliation of being belted all around the park by both Shane Bond and Kyle Mills, who not doubt, were able to enjoy the steam they were causing to rise in Lee, if the smiles on their faces between overs were any indication.
Ricky Ponting may have issued orders to Lee before this tournament began to reduce his bowling average in one day matches....it’s now time he instructed him to get on with the job of dismissing batsmen, rather than engaging in what appears to be personal grudge matches with tail-enders who appear to very much enjoy the emotions they arouse in Lee. Either that, or give Lee a few pointers in applying his agression at the right times. Maybe Lee needs a reminder that those three sticks in the ground are there for him to bowl at...not the batsman who is half way to square leg!
While Ponting is at it, he may like to pull aside the newest member of the Aussie team Shane Watson and point out to him, that the days of the “ugly” Aussie cricketer are well and truly over and what appears to be his verbal intimidation of opposition batsmen may land him in hot water with the umpires or match referee’s, who nowadays are under more pressure to report players who appear to verbally intimidate or sledge the opposition.
No doubt, if those watching a match on television can see it, the match referee in the pavilion is also seeing it on his monitor.
As captain of the team, Ponting should pull both these players aside and point out the pro’s and con’s of using aggression and how to turn that into a positive for the team, rather than an ugly display of, an inexperienced kid verbally provoking the opposition, or one of the world’s fastest bowlers providing a feast of runs and laughter to tail-end batsmen and armchair critics.