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Ponting backs Lee to shine in World T20
Ricky Ponting has no doubt veteran fast bowler Brett Lee can play a significant role for Australia at the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup despite his lack of match practice.
The 33-year-old paceman was a surprise inclusion in Australia's 15-man squad on Tuesday for the tournament which gets under way in the West Indies next month.
Lee beat Ryan Harris for a spot in the squad despite the latter's strong performances in the recent Test series win in New Zealand.
It means Australia will have an all-out express attack for the T20 tournament, with Lee joining the likes of Shaun Tait, Mitchell Johnson and Dirk Nannes in the Caribbean.
But there are still doubts over Lee's fitness considering he has played just a handful of games in the current Indian Premier League after elbow surgery in November which forced him to retire from Test cricket.
While admitting the likes of Harris and Clint McKay were unlucky to miss a spot in the squad, Ponting believes throwing Lee straight back into the international fold is a gamble worth taking.
"He hasn't played a lot of cricket for a few months but it's great to see him back on the park now," Ponting said on his return from New Zealand today.
"I watched him bowl the last couple of nights (in the IPL) and his pace has looked good.
"It's a good sign to have someone of that class and calibre in the team going into a big tournament.
"I know he's got a few more games to play to get back to full fitness yet but it's a really good sign for the Australian team he's back out on the park playing again.
"Brett's an experienced limited overs bowler and I knew once he came back he would get back into the side."
Ponting doesn't have to concern himself with the Twenty20 tournament, instead looking forward to an eight week break before preparing for a two-Test series with Pakistan in England.
Australia will be full of confidence after their performances this summer and the skipper gave special praise to Michael Clark and Marcus North for their displays under pressure in the 2-0 series win over the Black Caps.
"It was great to see a couple of guys who were under clouds going over there, one being Michael with all the off-field stuff and the other being Marcus North really find their feet and start playing good cricket for Australia again," Ponting said.
"They were both under pressure for different reasons going there but both probably found some of their best cricket in a long time.
"It says a lot about the character of those guys and the character it takes to survive at that level.
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