Standing at the top of my mark about to bowl my first delivery was one of the proudest moments of my life. I still get tingles thinking about it now. The crowd cheered when they heard my name, but I tried to block them out as I took a deep breath and charged in. I can’t actually remember my first three deliveries; just to have landed them on the cut stuff was an achievement.
A five-over-old ball and grey skies helped the chances for swing. All I tried to do was bring the ball back into the left-hander Sadagopan Ramesh. I ran in for my fourth delivery, and before I realized what I was doing I was bumping past Justin Langer at bat pad and racing towards a celebrating slips cordon. Ramesh had edged a good length ball onto his stumps, and I was running around like a madman.
I’d got a Test wicket. A bloody Test wicket! Shit! Gilly and Slats (Michael Slater) hugged me, Tugga and Warnie shook my hand, and Junior (Mark Waugh), who didn’t like a lot of ‘man-love’, gave me a pat on the back. Once all that happened, I thought: ‘Well, there’s no reason why I can’t get more wickets.’
I got another one in my second spell. It came too easily when Rahul Dravid flashed at a wide one and Gilly took the catch. Although I felt comfortable enough I was still a bit more tense than usual, and it wasn’t until my third spell, when the ball started reverse swinging, that I really started enjoying myself. In my eyes all the pressure was off me. For the first time I could see on a speed gun how fast I was bowling.
To see the numbers flash up on the scoreboard was one thing, but to hear people in the crowd talking about it really got me going: ‘He’s bowling at 154.8 kays an hour!’ I heard them because I was only a few metres away when I was fielding on the boundary. I had to laugh at the difference between being in front of the Members Stand and the outer crowd. In one area I’d hear, ‘He’s bowling with decent pace,’ and in the other there’d be: ‘Shit, that’s quick!’
Image: Brett Lee jumping for joy after dismissing Indian opening batsman Sadagopan Ramesh during his Test debut at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.