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November 18, 2009

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Lee takes a break to rest injured elbow

AUSTRALIAN paceman Brett Lee is taking a break from cricket to rest his injured elbow and consider his future in the sport.

"If it happens that I don't play cricket again I can walk away knowing I've given it my best," Lee said in Sydney yesterday, just a week after his 33rd birthday.

An elbow injury that has curtailed Lee's activity this year, keeping him out of test series in South Africa and England and restricting his appearances even in limited-overs cricket, flared up again in a domestic match on the weekend.

"I need to get away from the game, get this (elbow) right and then I'll make a call on my future," said Lee, who has taken 310 wickets in 76 test matches and 324 wickets at 23 in 186 limited-overs internationals. He will consult a specialist to determine if he needs another elbow operation.

At his peak, Lee is one of, if not the fastest, bowler in international cricket. But the stress of the express bowling has taken a toll on his body. The catalog of injuries that have hampered him since 2000 include stress fractures of the back, abdominal strains, elbow surgery in 2001, ankle surgery in 2003, 2004 and after hobbling off the Boxing Day test against South Africa in December, 2008.

An ankle injury also forced him out of the 2007 World Cup. He injured his torso just ahead of the Ashes series in England, when he was trying to force his way back into the team after ankle and foot operations, and then hurt his elbow again in an ODI against India last month.

The Australian media has suggested Lee will retire from test cricket to prolong his career, allowing him to play more one-day and Twenty20 matches.

He became the spearhead of the Australian attack after Glenn McGrath retired in 2007 and led from the front. But he has slipped behind Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus in the fast bowling pecking order for test cricket in the last 12 months.

Lee said earlier that he had a "burning ambition" to continue playing for Australia. "The love is definitely still there, I've still got that burning ambition and desire to keep actually doing things for Australia."


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