|Lee will face a fight to regain his spot in the one-day side [GALLO/GETTY]|
Australian fast bowler Brett Lee has announced his retirement from Test cricket with the aim of extending his international career in the shorter forms of the game.
Lee, 33, was one of the fastest ever bowlers at his peak, with deliveries recorded at speeds up to 100 mph, but has been plagued by injuries throughout his career which have restricted him to 76 Tests since his debut in the 1999-2000 season.
He has not played a Test since January 2009.
Lee has struggled with foot, side and ankle injuries, with a side strain robbing him of the chance to take part in last year’s Ashes series against England.
“It’s not the finish or the end of me. I do have a lot more cricket left in me.
“Test cricket has to go in order to prolong my one-day cricket for Australia,” he told a media conference at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
“This hasn’t happened overnight, it’s been a long, long process,” he said.
“I am extremely proud to have played Test cricket for Australia. My reason for retiring from this form of the game is so that I can preserve my body and continue to represent my country.’
Lee’s arrival in Test cricket in 1999 was spectacular, taking 5-47 in the first innings of the Boxing Day Test against India in Melbourne and finishing with seven wickets in the match.
He went on to claim 310 Test wickets at an average of 30.81, leaving him fourth on the Australian all-time list behind Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Dennis Lillee, and 22nd among wicket-takers for all nations.
Australia captain Ricky Ponting, who sat beside his teammate at the news conference, also said Lee deserved to be remembered as one of his country’s great cricketers.
“If we all just take a minute and think about what he’s put himself through in that 10 or 12 years – running 35 metres to bowl every ball, bowling every ball at close to 150 kph, and putting his heart on the line every ball he bowls.
“I think this bloke deserves a massive pat on the back.”
Before making his decision, Lee took advice from England allrounder Andrew Flintoff, who also retired from Test cricket to concentrate on one-dayers.
“I have always found him a really tough competitor every time I have played against him, but I know he has been struggling with injuries in recent months,” Flintoff said.
“From my own experience, I know how hard it is to keep performing at the highest level when you have a series of injuries but I am sure Brett will be remembered by cricket-lovers everywhere as an outstanding athlete, great fast bowler and a key part of Australia’s success.”
Lee, who has played 186 one-day internationals since his first match in 2000 and helped Australia win the 2003 World Cup, said he hoped to take part in this year’s Twenty20 World Cup in West Indies and the one-day World Cup in Asia next year.