A law unto himself, Lee ought to be bounced out By Peter Roebuck February 28, 2005 Brett Lee must be dropped from the Australia side for the rest of this tour of New Zealand. His beamer directed at Brendon McCullum on Saturday was merely the latest in a series of violent deliveries sent down by a pace bowler at best reckless in his approach and at worst utterly unwilling to remain within long-accepted parameters governing conduct on the cricket field. If Australia's captain, coach and manager did not have sharp words with Lee after the match then they stand in dereliction of their duties. No team seriously seeking to improve its reputation for sportsmanship can tolerate the brutal beamers sent down in recent times by the supposedly amiable competitor. Unfortunately the signs are not promising. After the match Ricky Ponting talked about dew and slippery run-ups. In his heart he knows better. Maybe he has been frustrated by the nonsense spouted by New Zealanders eager to distract attention from the lame performance of their team. Lee's head-hunter was the nastiest ball seen on a cricket field since, well, the beamer the same player directed at Abdul Razzaq in the one-day final in Sydney. Moreover the circumstances were similar in that both opponents had irritated the fast bowler. Previously Razzaq had sent two disgraceful beamers to Lee whereupon the umpire had removed him from the attack. Not that he had many more overs to bowl, or chances to nail a fierce opponent. Lee duly greeted the Pakistani with several scorching bumpers. Then he sent down a bean-ball, a delivery that became the talk of grade cricket. Apparently Tony Greig condemned the ball on television, in which case more power to his elbow. Others defended the local man, saying he would not hurt a fly. Odd, though, that Razzaq was the victim of this "accidental" delivery. Odd that the ball was not merely a yard higher than usual but also directed at a batsman standing outside his leg stump. McCullum had done nothing wrong except introduce himself as a dangerous and confrontational opponent with a suspected weakness against rising deliveries. Lee welcomed him with a bumper and was justifiably dismayed when the delivery was deemed to be illegitimate even though it barely passed over a ducking batsman. Lee continued with a flyer that was cut over cover for a couple of runs. Then came the beamer, hurled at the batsman's chest and clearly capable of breaking ribs. It was an ugly and deplorable delivery whose timing was bound to raise eyebrows even among members of the cheer squad. Although he had been bowling admirably, Lee had been having another bad day in the field, with overthrows and other mishaps indicating a distracted state of mind. On television Michael Slater defended his former colleague, saying that he was not the sort of man to try to harm an opponent with an unfair delivery. Slater is a fine commentator but on this occasion may have erred on the side of generosity. Beamers can indeed be sent down accidentally - Glenn McGrath once struck Mark Ramprakash on the ear with a bean-ball that appeared out of the blue and that everyone sensed was a mishap. Most beamers, though, are deliberate. Context is crucial. Lee immediately expressed regret for his action but his credibility has been worn to the bone. Apologies are easy and it is extraordinary that so much significance is attached to them. In 1993 Wasim Akram apologised after delivering the nastiest beamer seen in 20 years at Chris Adams, a county batsman who had accused him of ball-tampering. Astonishingly, no action was taken against him. At the lunch break the pair almost came to blows. Wasim is charming and overrated. Beamers are a blight on the game. Exchanges between batsmen and bowlers are built on trust. Batsmen understand that bouncers may be directed at them and prepare accordingly. Otherwise they may as well take up marbles. No one blamed Lee for the rearing deliveries that struck Matthew Papps. Not that his action has always been above suspicion. His bumper that removed Marcus Trescothick in Perth in 2002 was sent down from wide of the crease and with an open chest, a ruse now in abeyance. At least the ball to the Englishman bounced. Bean-balls are incomparably more dangerous because they elude detection by avoiding the usual channels studied by batsmen awaiting a delivery. Besides telling Lee that Australians do not bowl beamers, officials might also point out that court cases can result from incidents on the field. If a spear tackle can become a matter of litigation and damages then so can a beamer. As McCullum was not hurt he might not be able to start a civil case. His refusal to accept Lee's apology indicated his view of the matter. Nor was he alone in his opinion. Lee's beamer spoilt an otherwise superb fightback by an Australian side that contains several brilliant fieldsmen, some doughty operators and many fine sportsmen, a side that ought to rise above the sort of viciousness witnessed on Saturday night. Apart from anything else, they are representing the nation.