Rawalpindi express Shoaib Akhtar lauded the Australian pacer Brett Lee and said the Australian speedster was a fierce competitor' who announced his retirement last week.
Though the two pacers have been rivals as they were considered to be the pace sensation of the era, Pakistan's Shoaib Akhtar was named Rawalpindi express while the Australian became an identity for express bowling.
"Lee was a fierce competitor and became an identity for express bowling with his passion and love for the game and for fast bowling," Akhtar, who retired last year after a career plagued by injury and controversy, told AFP.
Talking about the speedster's retirement, Akhtar said that he was disappointed with Lee's retirement and called it a sad day for international cricket.
"Friday was a sad day for international cricket because a bowler with express pace has retired, someone who was loved by the fans around the world, and he will be missed," said Akhtar.
Akhtar further added that Lee was very dedicated and was a true Australian, as he was fierce.
"Lee gave everything to cricket and was a true Australian: fierce and battle-hardened. He was always willing to bowl and willing to bowl fast and like all the fast bowlers had injuries, which is part and parcel of fast bowling."
"Cricket had very few express pace bowlers and now after the retirement of Lee we don't have any bowler who can bowl 99 mph and the terror on the batsmen will be less," said Akhtar. Sharing his best moments with Lee, Akhtar said, "I had very good friendship with Lee and spent some good days with him in Sydney and he was always warm and cordial whenever we met, so I wish him all the best in his future," said Akhtar.
Lee had bowled the second-fastest delivery on record at 99.9 miles per hour (160.8 kph) at Napier in New Zealand, which was surpassed by Akhtar who hit the 100-mile barrier on two occasions, first in 2002 and then in 2003.
With Lee retiring from international cricket, the void created by him and Shoaib Akhtar cannot be filled as there is a dearth for quality pace bowlers.