Australian pace bowler Brett Lee yesterday announced his retirement from international cricket after a 13-year career, saying his body and mind were no longer up to the stresses of touring.
The 35-year-old said a calf muscle strain that forced him home from Australia’s recent one-day tour to Britain was the final straw after a string of setbacks caused by injuries.
“I woke up this morning and just felt like I was ready,” Lee said, adding his original plan had been to play at September’s World Twenty20 tournament in Sri Lanka as his international swansong.
“I think personally in a team environment you have to have 100 percent commitment — mentally and physically,” he told a press conference at the Sydney Cricket Ground. “And I guess looking at the next few months I just didn’t have that desire any more.”
“It wouldn’t be fair on me, or my team, if I went with that attitude... you get to the point in life where you say enough is enough,” he added.
Lee said he would continue to play the less demanding Twenty20 cricket in the Indian Premier League and the Australian Big Bash League.
Lee’s calf injury was the latest in a long line of injuries that punctuated his playing career, of 310 Test wickets at 30.81 from 76 matches and 380 one-day international wickets at 23.36 from 221 matches.
He also endured side strains, a broken toe, ankle issues, stress fractures to his back, persistent elbow problems and appendicitis.
Lee was not offered a national contract in Cricket Australia’s latest round of agreements and he decided not to take up a deal with his state side, New South Wales, for this coming summer.
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland paid tribute to Lee’s contribution to Australian cricket and as an inspiration to youngsters to take up the game.
“His record as a wicket-taker and leader of the attack is fantastic and speaks for itself, but his resilience and ability to bounce back after numerous injuries have also been impressive,” Sutherland said. “On top of this, and this is a significant part of his legacy, Brett inspired young Australians to play cricket and bowl fast.”
Lee also became extremely popular in cricket-mad India where he wrote and recorded the song You’re the One For Me, which reached No. 2 on the Indian charts and led to a role in his first Bollywood movie, Victory.
Lee said while he had enjoyed his cricket career, he was tired of being away from home for long periods and was looking forward to a different phase of his life.
“It’s been a fantastic career and I’ve loved every minute of it, but it’s stage two of my life now,” he said.
“My holiday will be at home — I’m sick of being away. That was on my mind as well — time away from home. I just want to maybe do some fishing and just chill out for a few months,” he added.
Lee retired from Tests in February 2010 as Australia’s fourth-highest Test wicket-taker, but played on in one-day and Twenty20 cricket up until yesterday’s announcement.