London: Brett Lee became the latest former Australia cricketer to be handed a World Cup role with another side when it was revealed Thursday he would serve as Ireland's bowling coach in the lead-up to the tournament. Cricket Ireland's announcement that it had secured the recently retired fast bowler's services came hours after confirmation that former Australia batsman Mike Hussey had been drafted in by South Africa.
Cricket Ireland said in a statement that Lee, 38, had signed a short-term deal to work with the side ahead of the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, which starts on February 14. One of the fastest bowlers of his generation, Lee took 310 wickets in 76 Tests with his 221 one-day internationals yielding 380 wickets. Now Ireland coach Phil Simmons hopes Lee can pass on some of his experience as the minnows look to defeat a Test nation for the third successive World Cup.
"Brett Lee has a wonderful knowledge of fast bowling, and his special insight of Australian pitches will help give our bowlers further confidence ahead of their group matches," said Simmons in a Cricket Ireland statement issued from their Dublin headquarters. "I'm sure all our bowlers will benefit from the experience that a two-time World Cup winner has accumulated, especially in the pressure situations of a global event," the former West Indies batsman added.
"It's a fantastic opportunity for our bowlers to learn from a living legend and one I'm sure they'll all benefit from." Lee bowed out of playing all forms of professional cricket last month after narrowly missing out on a last-ball hat-trick in the Sydney Sixers defeat by the Perth Scorchers in the final of Australian domestic cricket's Twenty20 Big Bash League.
Earlier, South Africa coach Russell Domingo said the 39-year-old Hussey, would act as a "consultant" to the Proteas as they sought to win a first World Cup title. As well as playing 79 Tests, Hussey, who retired in 2013, is regarded as one of Australia's greatest one-day players, averaging 48.15 from his 185 internationals. "We've had some discussions with Mike Hussey about him joining us on a consultancy process," Domingo said.
"He's a middle-order batter of immense experience and knows conditions very well in Australia. He'll play a very low-key role in the background." The Irish play Sydney grade club side Randwick Petersham in a 50-over friendly on Friday before official warm-up games against Scotland (Tuesday) and Bangladesh (Thursday). Both Ireland and South Africa, who are not in the same World Cup group as Australia, begin the tournament proper with matches in New Zealand. South Africa face African neighbours Zimbabwe in Hamilton on February 15 while Ireland open their Pool B campaign against the West Indies in Nelson a day later.