Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Brett Lee: England have lost their X-factor without Andrew Flintoff

Brett Lee has put his Ashes frustration behind him and is intent on inflicting further misery on an England team which he believes has lost its X-factor.
Lee, 32, missed the entire five-match Test series, which denied him the chance to renew his on-field rivalry with Andrew Flintoff.
Now Flintoff is going through his own period of rehabilitation and without him England are 2-0 down in the NatWest Series ahead of Wednesday's day-nighter at the Rose Bowl.
Andrew Strauss memorably spoke about Australia's lost 'aura' during the Ashes and Lee has returned to the theme.
"England have some other great bowlers but what Andrew brings to the game is that X-factor," Lee said. "You look at the great players around the world, not only in cricket, but at Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and David Beckham, they have all got that aura.
"I know we have heard a lot about aura recently but Andrew Flintoff has definitely got that. He brings that to the game and quite possibly when he is not around that aura that he would bring to the team is not there."
Lee's hopes of featuring in the 2009 Ashes, after battling back from ankle surgery, were dashed when he tweaked a rib muscle on the eve of the series. Although he declared himself fit for the final two Tests, he was overlooked.
"I can only say I know what I'm like and I know I was 100 per cent but people said otherwise," Lee reflected. "It's behind me now. I don't have any ill feeling about it. It's unfortunate I didn't play an Ashes Test over here but it's history and I look forward to the one-dayers.
"You've got to accept the cards you've been dealt and find a way that you as a person and a player can still give your best for the team. Even though you're not in the XI, you've still got to help the others in the side that are doing the business.
"I would have loved to play the fourth and fifth Test match but that wasn't the case. I've dealt with it now. It's behind me. I've got a wonderful opportunity to play the next five one-dayers for Australia."
The Australians were thrashed by 100 runs at the Rose Bowl in 2005, a result which gave England confidence in the build-up to that momentous Ashes win.
But the situation is quite different now and a third Australian victory would put them on course to claim a consolation one-day series victory.
"We have obviously got a bit of momentum going into this third match and momentum in a series is huge," Lee said. "We've got to make sure we capitalise on that but also not look too far ahead because we have five more important matches.
"We have to really focus on the game here and if we're 3-0 up going to Lord's then we're in a pretty good spot I would have thought."
Australia captain Ricky Ponting has rejoined the squad following a two-week break but will not be considered until the fourth match of the campaign.

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