Lee tipped to star at 2nd Test
While at the Gabba – one of Lee’s favourite grounds – he had match figures of 2-149 and was forced to take a back seat while Stuart Clark (7-93) and Glenn McGrath (7-103) earned most of the praise.
There has even been a cloud over Lee’s place on the team before the end of summer.
But Cooley believes Lee, who became a father in the week before the Test, is not far off his peak and with two days of fine-tuning in the Adelaide nets, he’ll be ready to go.
“His figures were not as flattering as he’d have liked, but I thought he did a fantastic job,” Cooley said.
Lee’s two wickets were key ones.
Having had Kevin Pietersen morally out on day three when Clark made a mess of getting under a skied pull shot, Lee struck a psychological blow with the first ball of the summer he delivered to England captain Andrew Flintoff.
In a brilliant tactical move, Australian captain Ricky Ponting spread his field to gift a single to the settled batsman Ian Bell so Lee could attack Flintoff in the last over of his spell.
Flintoff had just arrived at the wicket with his side teetering at 4-78 and Ponting’s ploy worked to perfection as Flintoff edged a searing leg-cutter to Adam Gilchrist and was out for a duck.
It snuffed out any hope of an England counter-attack as the tourists were bowled out 157, a demoralising 445 runs behind Australia’s first innings of 9 602.
Lee also went on the defence on the fifth day when he got Pietersen, England’s last recognised batsman, with the fourth ball of the morning.
“I thought he bowled some key spells in Brisbane,” said Cooley, who is a great admirer of Lee’s pure action.
After his first session with Lee during the off-season, he described him as “a machine”.
“I don’t think he’s very far off the mark now.
“He’s had a few things going on in his life, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he comes out and has a great Test match in Adelaide.”
Meanwhile, Cooley said he felt for his former charge, Steve Harmison.
“Like any bowler you don’t want to see him going through that.
“You really want to see him firing,” he said.
“But I’m sure he’ll be back.”
Cooley pointed out that Harmison had a modest series in South
Africa in 2004-05 (nine wickets at 73.22) then bowled brilliantly against Australia in last year’s Ashes, where his 5-43 on the first day set the tone of the series.
“He’s getting up towards 200 Test wickets.
“Three years ago he was No.1 in the world,” he said.
“I’m sure once he gets one or two little things sorted he’ll be back.
“I think he’s as good at bouncing back as any other bowler.”
Cooley said he and Harmison were friends and had spoken on a personal level during the Gabba Test.
“I spoke to most of the England players.
But at a friendship level, not at a professional level.”