Never had I dared to dream that I'd get $900,000: Lee
He is one of the most popular international cricketers in India, but Australian speedster Brett Lee says he wasn't sure if any of the IPL franchises would be interested in picking him up, and was stunned when he fetched US $900,000 in the inaugural auction.
The tearaway pacer, who was bought by Kings XI Punjab in the inaugural IPL auction, says he kept tabs on the proceedings all through, wondering if any franchise would be keen to have him.
"We were monitoring via text what was happening in India. One message stood 'India's one-day captain M S Dhoni had been bought for USD 15 million by Chennai. We were stunned'," he wrote, in his autobiography My Life.
"I was really nervous and couldn't help thinking, 'does anyone want me'? Finally the phone rang. It was my manager Neil Maxwell," he recalled.
After being informed that he was able to fetch US $900,000, Lee wrote, "Wow! This was just crazy; never had I ever dared to dream that I'd get that much. Over the days the cricket world was turned on its head by revelations of the millions and millions of dollars that were spent at the players' auction for the inaugural IPL."
Image: Brett Lee
'Rumours of affair with Preity Zinta weren't true'
Being in Kings XI Punjab also brought with it rumours of an affair with its co-owner, Bollywood actress Preity Zinta, but Lee said the speculation was the media's imagination.
"My signing fuelled media rumours that there was something going between me and Preity. This all stemmed back to 2002 or 2003 when I presented her with 'Leading actress' at a Bollywood awards night in Singapore.
"At the time, when the Indian media asked me who my favourite actress was I told them 'Preity Zinta', because she was cute and has a dimple... It was all a bit of fun but some journalists picked up on that... They simply weren't true," he wrote.
Image: Brett Lee and Preity Zinta
'There was one batsman I couldn't get out: Sachin Tendulkar'
Lee, in the autobiography, also speaks about the batsmen he has faced during his career and singled out Sachin Tendulkar as one who tormented him the most.
"There was one batsman I couldn't get out: Sachin Tendulkar. I was amazed how good he was. When he came out to bat I felt the energy lift in the field and crowd.
"...I must tell you that one of the reasons Sachin has had so much success on the cricket field is because he wants to win; in fact he has to win.
"He was cricket's biggest superstar who'd achieve just about everything his sport could offer," he wrote.
Lee recalled how Tendulkar's injury-forced absence took the sheen off the Australia vs ICC World XI one-day series in the 2005-06 season.
"There isn't much that needs to be said about those games. Originally they were planned to be a showdown between Australia, a team that was dominating world cricket, against the ultimate team of the world's best players.
Image: Brett Lee appeals for the wicket of Sachin Tendulkar
'Playing Test cricket in India is really tough'
"But since we'd lost the Ashes a month earlier, and the World XI was missing someone like Sachin, the games were a bit of a non-event even before they began," he wrote.
He calls India his second home, but Lee conceded it is also immensely tough to be on a tour there.
"Playing Test cricket in India is tough. Really, really tough! It's a place that requires all your focus, otherwise you're going to fail," he said, while describing his visit during the 2008 Test matches after splitting with his wife Liz.
"I love India but there are times when even the smallest things can play on my nerves and grate me," he said.
Image: Brett Lee