Aussie pace battery will terrify England: Lee

Former speedster Brett Lee says a 'once in a generation' perfect storm of fast bowlers could blow England out of the water next summer

Former Australia firebrand Brett Lee says the current crop of "once-in-a-generation" pace-bowling talent will put the fear into England's batsmen come next summer's Ashes.

The return of Pat Cummins to Australia's Test team and a revitalised James Pattinson, who is currently dominating the county circuit, has made real the dream prospect of a four-strong pace quartet for the Ashes alongside Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.

Lee, one of the fastest bowlers of all time who put fear into opposition batsmen for almost a decade, says England’s batsmen will do well to summon the courage to face such a relentless pace battery.

"I would be (scared), absolutely," Lee told Reuters.

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"It's a pretty serious pace barrage that you've got. The Australian bowling stocks now are pretty healthy."

The potential for a pace onslaught revives memories of the last Ashes series on Australian soil, when Mitchell Johnson terrorised England in the 2013-14 whitewash.

Johnson's efforts in that summer's opening Gabba Test prompted David Warner to famously declare England's batsmen had "scared eyes" and the pace and bounce had got to them.

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And a bowling attack featuring the express pace of Starc, Pattinson and Cummins plus the unerring accuracy of Hazlewood could give Australia the edge in the Ashes contest again, says Lee.

"What Pat Cummins can bring is pace, aggression, control and anything between that," said Lee.

"He is a once-in-a-generation bowler and you have got to harness that amazing talent.

"Hazlewood is more of hitting the good length, day in and day out.

"With Starc you will be getting full, short, good length, yorkers, the whole thing.

"Two completely different bowlers but complementing each other because they are building pressure from each end.

“It's a pretty handy attack."

The quartet could yet be selected to form a four-pronged pace attack in Australia's Champions Trophy squad for the tournament in June, where they will face England in the group stages. While a lone ODI encounter will have little bearing on the Ashes Test series, it’s worth remembering that a one-day series against England in mid-2013, where Johnson's pace first surprised the England batsmen, was the genesis for the pace barrage later unleashed in the Ashes.

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And Lee says he can see captain Steve Smith is building a "terrific" Australia team.

"It's a team that (is) very close and a team that's going to be around for a long time now," Lee said.

"You have got some young guys coming. (Matt) Renshaw is just 21 years old. (Peter) Handscomb has come on and just taken to Test cricket like a duck to water.

"You throw in Cummins, he's back in the mix after five and a half years of not playing Test cricket. You got some people that are injecting in some youth, some experience. Australia is in a very good spot."

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England too will be much changed from the outfit that last visited Australia, with Joe Root taking over the captaincy from Alastair Cook.

Lee said Root was a "class act" and "an amazing talent" but the England skipper will have a point to prove on the Ashes tour.

He averages more than 59 in 28 Tests on home soil but was dropped for the fifth Test in the 2013-14 series having scored 192 runs at 27.42.

"He's a class act … His stats back it up and proved that he is such an amazing talent," Lee said.

"He's ranked among the top four-five batsmen in the world. And you throw in the captaincy with that.

"I am actually looking forward to seeing how he goes on the Australian wickets."

The first Ashes Test begins in Brisbane on November 23.

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2017-18 International Fixtures:

Men's Ashes Series

First Test Gabba, November 23-27

Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night)

Third Test Perth TBC, December 14-18

Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30

Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test)

ODI Series v England

First ODI MCG, January 14

Second ODI Gabba, January 19

Third ODI SCG, January 21

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26

Fifth ODI Perth TBC, January 28

Prime Minister's XI

PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2

T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3

Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7

Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10

Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 14

Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21

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