Ryan Harris to replace broken-again Brett Lee
CANBERRA: Doug Bollinger may have helped make the Chennai Super Kings champions and been Australia''s best player in the IPL but Ryan Harris is expected to be named as Brett Lee''s replacement today.
The distress of Lee being sent home from the World Twenty20 in the West Indies after breaking down again outweighs the embarrassment of Australia losing its opening warm-up match to Zimbabwe in St Lucia. However, Lee''s latest setback, which may end his international career, only heightens the embarrassment for the selectors, who chose the ageing paceman in the 15-man squad before he had recovered from his previous injury.
Bollinger received wide acclaim in the IPL for transforming Chennai from also-rans and was the only Australian named in Cricinfo''s All IPL XI but statistically Harris had a slightly better tournament.
While Lee was forced home from the IPL with a broken thumb sporting figures of 0-149 in four matches and an economy rate of worse than 10 an over, Harris claimed 14 wickets and Bollinger 12. Both played eight matches after arriving at the IPL late following Australia''s tour of New Zealand.
Despite his outstanding form in the past year, which included being part of the NSW Champions League Twenty20 triumph in India last October, Bollinger has not played a Twenty20 match for Australia.
Harris has played two, against the West Indies in Sydney and New Zealand in Christchurch during February.
Despite his extended recent injury history Lee, one of just two bowlers to claim more than 300 Test and one-day wickets for Australia, retained his Cricket Australia contract when the new list of 25 players was announced this month.
The selectors wanted to nurse Lee through to next year''s World Cup on the subcontinent during March, hoping to use him as a short-form weapon in the same way Shaun Tait and Dirk Nannes are used in the Twenty20 team.
If he had a successful tournament, Lee would have been part of the squad to tour England in June and July for seven one-day matches against England and two Twenty20 matches against Pakistan.
A return to the national team appears unlikely given his recent injury history and the surfeit of in-form pacemen around the nation.
The irony of Lee''s latest setback, a strained muscle in his right forearm, is that he was Australia''s most economical bowler in the one-run loss to cricketing minnow Zimbabwe, claiming 1-13 from his four overs. He felt pain during his last over and was later sent for MRI scans.
A team spokesman said the injury was not related to Lee''s recent elbow surgery which wiped out his summer and led to his eventual retirement from Test cricket.