Lee ready for moment of truth
Veteran pace bowler Brett Lee admits the next fortnight will determine whether he is worth a place in Australia's side for the first npower Ashes Test in Cardiff.
Lee claims his record of 310 wickets from 76 Tests and experience of English conditions would count for nothing if he could not rediscover his best form in the tour matches against Sussex, which started today, and England Lions.
There are mixed views as to whether Lee, whose powers have been on the decline since Australia's tour of India last year, still commands a place in the Test side ahead of Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus.
Former Australia pace bowler Geoff Lawson believes Lee, 34, is no longer worthy of a place in the team, but Shane Warne insists his former team-mate still has much to offer.
"I know that if I'm not doing the business out on the cricket field I don't expect to get chosen," Lee said. "You've taken 300 Test wickets - well, whoopee whoop.
"I'm a very honest person. If I'm not bowling well or taking the wickets and not happy with the way the ball's coming out then I don't expect to be chosen.
"On the other side of the fence, if I'm taking wickets and feel like the ball's coming out the way I want it to, well then I'll be putting my hand up to take the brand new ball for Australia."
Asked if he had contemplated whether the next few weeks could be the beginning of the end, Lee said: "Definitely not. The thing that I'm proud about is longevity - playing for Australia for 10 years.
"There's going to be ups and downs but that's part of being a sportsperson. You go through highs and lows, all those troughs.
"I'm 32 years of age but so what? I'm feeling really fit. I'm the fittest I've ever been. I'm the strongest I've ever been, which is great but it doesn't mean anything if I'm not doing the business out on the cricket field.”
Lee's performance in Australia's ill-fated World Twenty20 campaign did not inspire much confidence but he has put that firmly to one side.
"To me the true test will be these two trial matches coming up," he said.
With competition fierce for berths in the Australia attack, there will be no shortage of players ready to fill the void should Lee be overlooked.
Siddle, Hilfenhaus and Andrew McDonald all impressed Ponting in South Africa, while off-spinner Nathan Hauritz could also be vital for Australia on a Cardiff wicket expected to offer turn.
"Maths at school, you know 16 isn't going to go into 11 no matter how hard you try," Lee said.
“Certainly, from a bowler's point of view and without putting pressure upon ourselves, we do know it's a bit of a shoot-out, but that's healthy and it makes it exciting too.”