The last time India toured Australia was in 2018-19 when the the Virat Kohli-led Indian team made history by defeating Australia 2-1 in the four-match series to register their maiden Test series win on Australian soil.
India are slated to travel to Australia for a three T20I, 3 ODI and four-match Border-Gavaskar Trophy Test series. The four Tests are scheduled to be played at The Gabba (Brisbane), Adelaide Oval (Adelaide), MCG (Melbourne) and SCG (Sydney).
Looking ahead to that big series, former Australian cricketer Brett Lee, who has been part of many memorable India vs Australia clashes spoke to TimesofIndia.com about why he thinks the India-Australia rivalry is an important one for world cricket.
“The tour is so important. Anytime that India gets the chance to tour Australia or vice versa. It always was Australia versus England in the Ashes. That was always the pinnacle. I do believe now that this (India vs Australia) is definitely at par. When Australia play India in a Test series, that’s definitely right up there with the best competition to watch and the best rivalry. There’s definitely no love lost, but the two nations appreciate the cricket which they play,” Lee told Timesoifindia.com in an exclusive interview from Sydney.
The 43-year-old also reiterated the fact that India’s tour to Australia is not just important for the fans, but also for the cricketers and Cricket Australia.
“In the situation that we’ve been through with COVID-19, I think everyone has been in their house for a number of months. If there is some way that we can get cricket played in Australia, which I’m sure that we can, in a number of months’ time, I think it’s really really important for world cricket. It’s very important for Australian cricket, but also, it’s important for the players. The players (India and Australia) love playing against each other. I see this being the silver lining of what’s been a pretty dark, low end of summer and winter for us. Obviously for you guys too. But it’s been a horrible time in the world and I know we can’t change the deaths, we can’t change what has happened, but hopefully, playing sports will put a smile on people’s faces,” Lee, who took 718 international wickets for Australia (all formats included) said.
The 2020 T20 World Cup was originally scheduled to be played in Australia from October 18 to November 15, but considering the current situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it looks like the mega tournament is all set to be postponed, possibly to 2022. India is scheduled to host the 2021 T20 World Cup.
One of the most feared bowlers of his generation and a two-time ICC Cricket World Cup winner with Australia, Lee is confident of the mega event being postponed by the world cricket body.
“My honest take is that it (2020 T20 World Cup in Australia) will be pushed back. I think the ICC are trying their best to manage. It’s very hard to manage 16 teams. Period. Even when there’s no COVID-19. It’s very hard to get 16 teams in one nation. That takes a lot of organisation. But when you throw in the pandemic that we’re going through and what the world’s been through, and they get 16 nations to travel, it’s a big task. So, I think the ICC are probably doing the right thing and just taking as much time as possible in order to try to make sure that they know exactly the situation in Australia. But my gut feeling is that they will push it back. And if they have got that window to push it back, then why not? If it’s safer to push it back, push it back,” Lee, who played 76 Tests, 221 ODIs and 25 T20Is for Australia further told TimesofIndia.com.
The extremely unfortunate and heartbreaking death of African-American George Floyd in America, sparked a worldwide anti-racism movement – Black Lives Matter (BLM). Floyd’s killing triggered widespread protests across the world and athletes across sports have added their voices to strengthen the protest.
The anti-racism message was also seen at the beginning of the West Indies vs England Test series, when players from both teams and officials took a knee, with the West Indian players raising their fists to express their solidarity with the movement. Players in both teams are also wearing the Black Lives Matter message logos on their shirts.
Brett Lee also spoke about the importance of this movement, saying there is no place in the world for racism.
“I think it’s also the way that you’re brought up by your parents and your family. It’s the way you’re brought up through school. And luckily for us as sports persons, we have a good platform in order to get a wonderful message out. My sort of view is that there should be no place in the world for racism. There should never be any racism in the workplace. And there should never be any racism in the household but also in the sporting field. But, sometimes, unfortunately, it happens and I think it’s the role of the players on a huge world platform to to show their views against that,” Lee, who made his Test debut against India in December 1999 told TimesofIndia.com.
With the Coronavirus pandemic shredding the international sports calendar to pieces, sport, both domestic and international is trying to limp back to some form of normalcy and Lee is glad to see the resumption of sports in Australia under strict guidelines.
“At the moment there is some sport being played (in Australia), which is exciting. There’s AFL (Australian Football League for Australian rules football) and NRL (National rugby league). There’s obviously strict guidelines and conditions around that. Sport is being played in empty stadiums. And as time goes on, hopefully, once everything dies back down again, then you’ll see more sporting events open up again. You’ll see cricket will come back into play. You’ll see other major sports coming into play as well. So, I don’t think we’re too far away. But like I said, we’re going to be very vigilant with what we’re doing here,” Lee said.
Lee who played for the Kings XI Punjab and Kolkata Knight Riders IPL franchises now has another Indian connection, as brand ambassador of the digital platform SportsAdda.
“When I found out and we had the conversation and had the chance to come on board and be an ambassador, I jumped at it because I think it’s such a great opportunity for the viewers that they want to come on and actually see what we can do.” Lee signed off.