I heard someone from the crowd say: ‘He could get five. Five on debut! How good would that be?’ Until then, I hadn’t thought about a 5-for; I was just out there having fun. India were 5-167 when I started the fifth over of my third spell. First ball, I went for the spit-rock yorker that ended up being a shin-high full toss that swung in late and bowled Mannava Prasad.
Next ball I went for the yorker again, and this time I got it spot on, hitting Ajit Agarkar on the foot. I appealed, the slips cordon appealed, and I reckon about 50,000 at the ground went up as well; Shane was in the crowd with his Mosman teammates Andrew Yates and Craig Hughes. He told me later he reckoned he was first out of his seat and spilled his beer. ‘Shep’- umpire Shepherd - put his finger up, and I was on a hat-trick.
I didn’t want that moment to end, but part of me was wanting to race off the field and ring Mum and Dad. When I went back to my mark Tugga jogged up from gully to have a word. I was too pumped to remember what he said; nor did I know what field I had. I knew what I was going to do with my next delivery: if I’d been two times lucky, well, why not three?
The noise was deafening as I ran in while fans belted the advertising boards around the boundary fence. I let the ball go, and it just wasn’t to be. Javagal Srinath pushed a widish one to cover, and I smiled. I wasn’t disappointed. How could I be? If I could bottle up a mixture of a natural high to sell, I would have chosen that moment.
Three balls later I sniffed Srinath and the ball popped off his gloves to Mark Waugh in the slips. I turned around and appealed while running back and into the hugs of my teammates. The crowd was roaring and I was dreaming. On the replay on the scoreboard I saw myself saying, ‘Far out, I’ve got 5-for!’, or words to that effect. It was clear as day.
Tugga came up and shook my hand and said: ‘Well done.’ He didn’t show any great emotion, but I think quietly he was happy because his support for me had been justified. I was glad I’d proved him right; I would rather have let myself down than Tugga. I then walked back to third man, took my cap off and thanked the crowd who were on their feet. It was a great moment, definitely one of the best of my career.
Image: Brett Lee appeals successfully for a caught behind decision against Indian batsman Vijay Bhardwaj on India's tour of Australia in 1999-2000