Lee calls time on his fine Test career

Brett Lee has been hailed as one of the best bowlers of the modern game after announcing his retirement from Test cricket yesterday.

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Brett Lee has been hailed as one of the best bowlers of the modern game after announcing his retirement from Test cricket yesterday. Lee, who is the fourth highest wicket taker for Australia in five-day cricket, will continue to play one-day international and Twenty- 20 cricket but feels his body can no longer stand up to the rigours of the longer form of the game following five ankle operations, surgery on his elbow and a back stress fracture.

"To me, Test cricket is my favourite part of the game, wearing the baggy green cap," said Lee. "But if I'm going to keep playing cricket for another few years, something had to give. It's not the finish or the end of me, I still have a lot of cricket left in me." Ricky Ponting, the Australia captain, placed the 2006 Wisden and 2008 ICC Test Player of the Year among Australia's greatest fast bowlers.

"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 150kph, and putting his heart on the line every ball he bowls, this bloke deserves a massive pat on the back," he said. Lee, 33, last played a Test in December 2008 against South Africa when he limped away with a stress fracture of a foot. A side strain then kept him out of the Ashes series last summer.

"Brett is going to go down as one of the great all-time express bowlers in the world," said Dennis Lillee, the former Australia fast bowler. "For him to play 76 Tests and take 300-odd wickets doing what he does is a credit to him." Michael Clarke, the Australia vice-captain, believes, if the New South Wales bowler can get back to full fitness, he will remain a valuable part of the Australia set-up.

Clarke, speaking before Aust-ralia departed for their tour of New Zealand, said: "I think he's still facing a tough challenge to get his elbow right and see if he can come out and go back to bowling how he used to bowl. "But his statistics don't lie. In all three forms he's a wonderful player and has been for a long time for Australia, so, if he's fully fit, I'm sure he'll make his way back into any form of the game."

"He's been a wonderful player in all three forms of the game for a long time and he's a very good friend of mine and someone that I'll continue enjoying playing international cricket with," Clarke added. "Obviously I wish him all the success with his future but he's still going to be playing international cricket so I'm looking forward to him getting back on the park and getting out there and representing Australia again."