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Mitchell Johnson, Dale Steyn world’s best pacers, says Brett Lee

Brett Lee feels Mitchell Johnson's IPL stint has benefitted him greatly © Getty Images
Brett Lee feels Mitchell Johnson’s IPL stint has benefitted him greatly © Getty Images

March 4, 2014

Former Australian pacer Brett Lee believes that South African speed-gun Dale Steyn and pace-merchant Mitchell Johnson are two of the finest fast-bowlers in modern day cricket.

If Johnson tormented the English with his 37-wicket haul in the 2013-14 Ashes series then Steyn recently troubled the Aussies with his searing pace and bounce during South Africa’s 231-run win at Port Elizabeth.

“There’s been a lot said about guys bowling spin, guys who are all-rounders and great batsmen… I do agree with all that but we’ve seen recently that the most successful Test cricketing nations are because of their fast bowling. Fast bowling counts and we have the Australian pace attack that has been fantastic. We have Steyn who I still think with Johnson are the best bowlers in the world right now,” said Lee who was speaking to the Times of India.

Morne Morkel and Steyn are the two guys who build the foundation for South Africa. It’s incredible to think that they both can bowl over 150 kmph and still bowl line and length. No one likes facing pacers and certainly if they get something to handle like what Johnson has done. He’s terrorised batsman across the world,” added Lee.

When queried about Johnson being the decisive factor in Australia’s change in fortunes over the last couple of years Lee replied:” Mitch [Johnson] has been outstanding and has led the turnaround with his moustache. He has been fast and aggressive and has changed the face of Australian cricket. Added to that is [wicketkeeper-batsman] Brad Haddin and coach Darren Lehmann who makes the players more comfortable. Australia has been a lot more confident. They have played some great cricket and look a fantastic side.”

“He played for Mumbai Indians (MI) in IPL which provided him the opportunity [last season] to bowl fast and under pressure. He impressed everyone in Australia by bowling fast again and developing his game,” said the former Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) bowler in the IPL.

Lee maintained that if India have to do well in the 2015 World Cup, being jointly staged by Australia and New Zealand, they need to have good pacers in their squad,” added Lee who credits Johnson’s Indian Premier League (IPL) stint with Mumbai as the reason for his recent good run.

On questions of India not producing top quality fast-bowlers with regularity, Lee said,” India have very good batsmen and great spinners. But they need to find bowlers who can bowl at 140kmph. India need to really show they have dominating fast bowlers as the wickets will be fast and bouncy. It’s not that Indians haven’t produced fast bowlers.”

“It’s that they haven’t produced as many as other countries around. But you need to look at the wickets you play on. If one bowls 160kmph on a flat wicket with absolutely no grass, its going to do nothing. You need to try and take the pace off the ball or try to spin it on such wickets. So, you cannot succeed as a fast bowler if you play on such pitches. In Australia that’s why we made wickets that helped you as a fast bowler, likewise India need to prepare wickets that assist pacers. That will encourage a youngster to run in and bowl a quicker one,” concluded Lee.

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