Sydney, Jan 13 (UNI) Pace spearhead Brett Lee is quite sure that his hard-won positive image in the sub-continent will not be adversely affected following the racism row that hit the international cricket last week.
Lee is hugely popular in India, not only because he can bowl at 150 kmp, but because he has spent significant time in the country.
He has sponsorships with Indian companies, released a song there, and even learnt some Hindi. Last week he was involved in the filming of a Bollywood movie, a direction he is considering pursuing further when his cricket career ends.
Lee said he is quite sure that, despite the anger directed at some Australian players after the controversial Sydney Test, his image would not be tarnished.
''Definitely not,'' he said. ''The respect I have for their players and the love I have for their country means that it's definitely not going to have an impact on us going over there and touring, whether it's to play cricket or to do work with sponsors or whatever.
''The drama is not between the players. There's issues, for sure.
But, when you're playing at the top level there are always going to be things that pop up. As far as the feeling between most of the players, there is no issue,'' Lee told The Sun-Herald.
''For me, I'm treated so well over there and I'm very thankful for that. I don't think anything will change. I try to do everything in my power to keep a good relationship with people in India.
''It's a great place and I've always thought that we should be encouraging every Australian, at one stage in their life if they can, to go to India. I can't praise the place enough.
''I truly think that the Indian public respect what we do and they enjoy the style of cricket we play,'' Lee said.
Lee is in currently enjoying a purple patch and has taken 13 wickets at an average of 18.6 in the first two Tests of the series against India. This week will mark a notable point in his career, leading the attack in place of Glenn McGrath at the traditional paradise of fast bowlers in Perth.
''It has the signs of being a fast and bouncy wicket,'' he said.
''The reports are it's getting back to what it used to be. I'm hoping that it has a bit in it because it's the only chance we really have to play on a fast pitch in Australia nowadays. No one wants to see a Test end in four days. But with the number of great batsmen around these days, something has to go in the bowlers' favour.
''Every bowler enjoys Perth. On the downside, sometimes you can be tempted to bowl too short. That's something we've got to be conscious of. But I am licking my lips at the prospect of bowling there.
''To lead the Australian attack is great, especially there. I think I'm bowling better now than ever because I'm a bit more patient. So I won't be doing anything different in this Test. It's just going to be great to take the first over.'' The 31-year-old Lee has charmed the public as well as the corporate world in India. Some observers have even wondered whether he was spending too much energy on pursuits other than cricket.
Lee, however, rejected all this claims and said, ''Life gets a bit hectic sometimes, playing for Australia.'' ''It's not just about playing cricket any more. It's the whole corporate world, sponsorship, lots of commitments. But I enjoy doing the ads, going out and meeting children, signing autographs.
''I enjoy these one-off things, like the Bollywood movie we're working on now. It's different and exciting.
''I always make sure that the most important thing is my cricket, performing at the top level. I wouldn't be able to do that if the other things were a distraction. I actually feel that the things I do away from cricket energise me.
''I look at it as being a complementary thing, a string to my bow. I see it as part of getting away from cricket. I'm not the type of guy to sit in front of the TV for hours and veg. I love keeping busy.'' UNI XC TB KP0842