Australian cricket history is full of many great brotherly combinations: there’s the Chappells, the Waughs, the Husseys – and the Lees.
Alongside firebrand paceman Brett was older brother Shane, who also managed to represent the green and gold in One Day International cricket in a more-than-handy career.
The hard-hitting, medium-pace all-rounder rose to prominence alongside his lightning-quick brother in the late 1990s, finishing with best figures for Australia of 33/5 (against Sri Lanka), and playing for almost a decade at First Class level for New South Wales and in English county cricket.
Now, he’s opened up on his upbringing in The Betoota Advocate Podcast – and revealed his hilarious first meeting with Shane Warne.
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“About 14-15, I only ever thought I was going to play for Australia,” Lee said.
“The backyard games were really competitive. I was the oldest so I’d bat first and Brett would bowl.
“Poor younger brother Grant – nicknamed Dud – he had to field. So he retired at 19!”
Grant, he says, is now a chartered accountant. And Brett became one of the fastest bowlers in cricket history – as well as a cult hero in the early 2000s. According to Shane, he deserves a little credit for that: “I definitely bullied him around.”
Shane and Brett became something of a double-act for NSW. But when Shane got his Australian call-up, there was another double-act in the offing.
“I remember the ‘96 World Cup, I was first selected as a young 23-year-old all-rounder. We got there and Warnie was really nice to me and sort of took me in. He was going: ‘Me and you, it’s going to be The Shane Show’.
“Steve Waugh pulled me aside and said ‘Mate, do you remember when you were at school and there was a kid at school that had no mates. And this new kid comes to school and the kid with no mates was all over the new kid. You’re that new kid and Warnie’s the kid with no mates.’”
The Shane Show didn’t work out so well in practice.
During the opening ceremony of the World Cup – hosted by Pakistan, India, and Sri Lanka – Lee says, “Each player from around the world was walked out by an Indian model … He (Shane) said ‘I’ll get the best two for us, (repeatedly talking up) ‘The Shane Show, the Shane Show’.’
“We had one drink and we’re going back thinking it’s all going to happen, and we got there and there’s a whole extended family there and we spent the whole night signing autographs and having a bloody meal!
“I said ‘The Shane Show, really?’ He said ‘Don’t tell the boys that!’”
The Lee brothers weren’t just a hit on the field – they were also a stellar act on stage, part of the rock band ‘Six & Out’. Brett was on bass, Shane on guitar, and three other NSW players (Richard Chee Quee, Brad McNamara, and Gavin Robertson) filled out the line-up.
Shane takes a bit of the credit for Brett’s cricketing career, after all those backyard sessions. And given their band, maybe he deserves a bit of credit for Brett’s musical fame in Bollywood too.
As for Warnie, Lee says: “He’s the best cricketer I ever saw or played with. He was a freak of a cricketer.”