Freddie saddened by Lee's retirement, others pay tributes

England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, who reportedly persuaded Brett Lee into quitting Tests, said he is saddened by the Australian pacer's retirement.

updated: February 24, 2010 08:13 IST
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England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, who reportedly persuaded Brett Lee into quitting Tests, on Wednesday said he is saddened by the Australian pacer's retirement while several other former and current cricketers also paid tribute to one of the world's most feared fast bowlers.

Flintoff, who himself quit Test cricket last year to prolong his ODI and Twenty20 career, sad his Ashes rival and good friend should be remembered as an integral part of Australia's golden era of success.

"It is very sad to hear the news that Brett is to retire from Test cricket. 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," he said.

"Everyone will remember the moment we shared at Edgbaston, but for me the great battles with bat and ball against Brett will live with me for a long time.

"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," said Flintoff.

Flintoff and Lee bonded during the 2005 Ashes series and the Englishman was famously snapped while consoling Lee at Edgbaston after Australia's heartbreaking two-run loss.

Lee's son Preston Charles' name is inspired by the name of Flintoff's hometown Preston.

Meanwhile, Australia captain Ricky Ponting said the affable pacer would be remembered as one of the greats of the game.

"That's certainly the way he should be recognised," Ponting said in praise of his former team-mate, who has been an integral part of one of the most successful Australian Test sides under him.

"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 150km/h, and putting his heart on the line every ball he bowls. I think this bloke deserves a massive pat on the back," he added.

Australian pace icon Dennis Lillee echoed Ponting's view, describing Lee as one of the greatest tearaway fast bowlers the world had seen.

"Brett is going to go down as one of the great all-time express bowlers in the world ... bowling at 150 plus km/h puts a huge strain on the body and it can only take so much," Lillee said.

"For him to play 76 Tests and 300-odd wickets doing what he does is a credit to him," he added.

Former Australian captain and now noted commentator Richie Benaud hoped Lee would win back his limited-overs slot after recovering from an elbow injury.

"I hope Brett is able to continue to play for Australia in limited-overs internationals, he is a master of orthodox and reverse swing and no one has ever been more proud to represent his country in Test cricket," Benaud said.

"Lee and Glenn McGrath formed a splendid partnership with the new ball in both forms of the game from 1999 to 2007, and being one of only nine Australian pace bowlers to take 200 Test wickets is a great achievement."

Former Test opener Justin Langer believes Test cricket will miss Lee, who burst on to the scene with five wickets on debut against India in the Boxing Day Test of 1999.

"There are few better sights in the game of cricket than Brett Lee in white, sweat band pumping, high leap, poetic follow through and then a smile," Langer said.

"Test cricket will be poorer without Brett who, apart from his fitness and skill, is one of the most likeable people I have met in the game of cricket."

Former Test quick Jason Gillespie praised his one-time fast-bowling partner for his never-say-die attitude.

"To always come back fitter, hungrier, stronger and bowling the pace that he bowled, I just think is a testament to his character. I don't think the public would appreciate how much pain he bowled in ... and he always wanted another over," he said.

Former fast bowler Merv Hughes feels despite his injury breakdowns, Lee has survived long at his pace.

"You look at Shoaib Akhtar and Shaun Tait and certainly Brett Lee was right up there in pace, his longevity at that pace was superb and I really can't believe that people questioned his ability."

Another Australian Test pacer Damien Fleming felt public expectations from Lee because of his dramatic emergence had put pressure on him.

"Of the genuine quicks (of his era), he (Lee) would have played twice as much as the other guys. We just thought we had discovered the Shane Warne of fast bowling (when he emerged).

"That probably put unrealistic expectations on him, but that was my thinking because he actually bowled in really good areas in those first couple of Tests, and he was lightning."