Abu Dhabi: Australian pace legend Brett Lee has backed the Baggy Greens to go all the way in the forthcoming World Cup in England.
The comeback of David Warner and Steve Smith has added the much-needed boost that the Aussies were looking for, asserted Lee on the sidelines of the Happiness Sim Cricket Sixes held by Abu Dhabi Cricket Club at the Zayed Cricket Stadium.
“It may seem like cliche but anyone that is in the World Cup line-up definitely has a chance. Yes, there’ll be favourites and teams that could do better, but personally I think Australia have a good chance,” said Lee, “To me, it comes down to the top four or five batsmen and death bowlers. I strongly believe batsmen win matches but the bowlers win tournaments.”
Smith and Warner may have lost their leadership roles but their presence in itself is enough as they are “natural leaders”, said Lee.
“Of course, Smith and Warner strengthen the side. It’s not just their batting, even if they won’t be leaders in the leadership group, they are natural leaders. They would be playing a second tier leadership role, which will be so valuable to their teammates because of their experience as they have been around for a long time,” said the 42-year-old, who finished his Test career with 310 wickets and ODI with 380.
Lee was of the view that everyone needs a second chance and so does Warner and Smith which their teammates and the entire cricket fraternity should realise.
“I would like to look at the fact what’s happened has happened,” he said. “They have been dealt with, and we all move on. They are playing cricket with freedom and Warner, in particular, has been in sublime form. I haven’t seen him so hungry for runs. You look in his eyes and you can see that passion.”
Lee added that Smith is a bit behind Warner in terms of fitness but it has to do with his elbow injury.
“Smith is still recovering but he’s coming through at the right time, and had a couple of nice innings at the back end of the IPL,” he said. Unfortunately, the duo have to live with it for the rest of their lives, which is a sad thought on two wonderful cricketers. Everyone makes mistakes and unfortunately it’s in the public eye.”
Lee also felt that the Australian bowling attack has the depth to deliver in English conditions.
“Australian attack has got some really good firepower up front. It’s crucial to take wickets in the first 10 overs which can make inroads and get into the middle order quickly. As a bowler, early wickets stem the flow of runs. It’s not rocket science.
“I’m impressed with Pat Cummins. Give him the new ball and he’s a different bowler. Spin through the middle and the death bowlers will be the key, depending on the game they play.
Winning eight games in a row against India and Pakistan in the run up to the World Cup was a huge shot in the arm, according to Lee.
“It’s all coming together at the right time for Australia,” he said. “It’s not about the results now but peaking at the right time, at a point when you need to win games and it happened towards the end.”