You've got to love Australian cricketer Brett Lee. Being on the sidelines with an ankle injury while his teammates are devouring opposition in the Caribbean in their quest for a record fourth World Cup cannot be fun.
But on his visit to Dubai, Lee hardly looked a man in physical as well as mental anguish, rather his trademark smile just refused to leave his face.
And it only got broader when he visited InSportz Academy to mingle with his young fans. “I enjoy spending time with kids, it's great,'' said Lee.
The pace bowler endeared himself to the youngsters at the indoor facility, signing autographs, posing for pictures and answering their queries.
“How do you swing the ball?'' asked one. “How do you bowl fast?'' shot another. They even asked him about his part-time singing career, and Lee left no one disappointed.
“At the age everyone's at here, the most important thing is to have fun playing cricket,'' said Lee before adding: “But if you do want to get better and better, you should try swinging the ball, try bowling an off- or leg-cutter, or bowl a slower ball at the back of your hand as well.''
Lee shared some of his techniques with the group. “What I used to do was put a 20 cent Australian coin or a bottle top on the wicket and try to hit it. At first you may hit it one time out of 20, but as you get better, you will hit it two times out of 10 so it's just ways to get better and improve.''
The 30-year-old also emphasised the importance of fitness. “Keeping the pace is very important and to do that you have to stay fit. They should do as much as they can – running, sprinting, swimming, stretching, all that.''
The highlight of the visit was when Lee rolled his arm over, gently of course, to a few of the boys. “It was so amazing,'' said 14-year-old Sankalp Sethia, one of those who padded up against the Australian.
Navin Mulchandani added: “We will always remember it as he is the world's fastest bowler.''
When this journalist asked Brett Lee what his reasons for the gap between Australia and the other teams were, Lee said: “We train hard, play hard and always enjoy a good challenge.''
But then aren't they known for coming up with innovative techniques and drills? In answer, the lanky pacer just grinned and said: “I can't give too much away otherwise they won't be secrets any more.''
Bend it like Brett
If I'm bowling with a new ball, I keep two fingers on the double seam and thumb on the bottom of the seam. To bowl an outswinger to a right-handed batsman, hold the seam straight down the stumps. If you feel it's going straight, try and turn it [to the off side] but not much. With my action and follow through, the ball will swing away.
To bowl an inswinger, turn the ball around so you have the shiny side away from the batsman. Hold it straight and bowl with the seam towards fine leg. As the seam goes down, it goes into the batsman. So whichever way the seam is pointed, that's the way the ball should swing. Reverse swing is different, though.
Brett Lee's passion for music is well-known. The fast bowler is a key member of the rock band Six & Out. The band is made up of his brother Shane, a former all-rounder with the Australian one-day side, and former New South Wales cricketers Brad McNamara, Gavin Robertson and Richard Chee Quee.
Lee plays the bass guitar and acoustic guitar for the band. Besides that, he also plays the piano and owns a black Bosendorfer grand piano.
During the 2006 ICC Champions Trophy in India last October, Lee recorded a duet with India's music diva Asha Bhosle. In the song, a foreign boy woos an Indian girl.
Lee strums the guitar and belts out the number in English and Hindi. The song is called
You're the One For Me and reached a peak position of number two on the Indian and South African charts.