HOBART, Australia, Nov 18 (Reuters) Australian strike bowler Brett Lee has supported Ricky Ponting's decision not to enforce the follow-on in the second test against Sri Lanka despite the temptation of chasing a quick kill.
The Australians had the option of making the Sri Lankans bat again after bowling them out for 246 -- 296 runs behind the home side's first innings total of 542 for five declared -- but decided to give their bowlers a rest and increase their lead before a second declaration on Monday's fourth day.
Lee, who took four wickets in an innings for the third time in the series, said the bowlers were fresh enough to have another crack at the Sri Lankans but preferred to wait another day to give their bodies the best chance to completely recover.
''Ricky came down to me when they were about eight wickets down and said that we would have a bat if we got the last two wickets pretty quickly,'' Lee told a news conference today.
''It's just the fact that it was back-to-back tests and back-to-back innings as well.
''The bowlers have all pulled up brilliantly after this first innings but it's a precaution to make sure the bowlers are all looked after, go home and have a good night's sleep and come back tomorrow at some stage.'' Lee said he could not have been happier with the performance of Australia's bowlers as they ripped through the Sri Lankan batting lineup on a flat Bellerive Oval pitch that offered very little assistance to either the seamers or spinners.
NEW LEADER ''I think everyone's doing a great job,'' the 31-year-old said.
''Everyone's contributing, everyone's putting up their hands and the feeling among the bowlers is that we always look after each other.
''We're almost hunting in a pack without even thinking about it, it's just a matter of looking after your mates.'' Lee, who was named man of the match in Australia's first test win in Brisbane last week, said he was relishing his new role as leader of the attack following the retirement of Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne.
He dimissed the two Sri Lankan openers, Michael Vandort and Marvan Atapattu, before lunch on Sunday then added the wickets of Dilhara Fernando and Mahela Jayawardene to polish off the innings early.
''Now that I've been given the extra opportunity to lead the Australian attack, it's something I've always dreamt of and I suppose without actually thinking about it I've hopefully stepped up to the mark and really enjoy that role as well,'' he said.
''As far as test matches go, it's probably been my last seasons which have been my best, but the way that I see it, there's still so much improvement to go.
''I don't think I'll ever be a line and length bowler. I'm a lot more consistent with my line and length but the reason I'm in the Australian cricket team is to try and bowl fast and to try and take wickets.'' REUTERS TB BD1530