Australian fast bowler Brett Lee, retired from Test cricket on Wednesday in a bid to prolong his international limited-overs cricket career.

Lee, 33, was one of the games fastest ever bowlers at his peak, with deliveries recorded at speeds up to 161 kph (100 mph).

His career has been hampered by injuries which have restricted him to 76 Tests since his debut in the 1999-2000 season, and he has not played a Test since January 2009.

“I am extremely proud to have played Test cricket for Australia. My reason for retiring from this form of the game is so that I can preserve my body and continue to represent my country,” Lee said in a statement.

His arrival in Test cricket in 1999 was spectacular, taking 5-47 in the first innings of the Boxing Day Test against India in Melbourne and finishing with seven wickets in the match.

He went on to claim 310 Test wickets at an average of 30.81, leaving him fourth on the Australian all-time list behind Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Dennis Lillee, and 22nd among wicket-takers for all nations.

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland, said Lee had made an outstanding contribution to Australian cricket at Test level.

“Brett’s had a fantastic career in Test match cricket for Australia over a long period, and I take this opportunity to congratulate him on the way he has represented his country and the outstanding contribution he has made,” Mr. Sutherland said. “Brett has played a key role in helping the Australian team be one of the most successful Test teams in history.

“But it’s also the way he went about his cricket; with a readiness to smile and a clear enjoyment of what he was doing, which also helped lift the teams popularity and won the support of fans in Australia and throughout the world.”

Mr. Sutherland said he looked forward to seeing Lee return to the Australian limited-overs squad when he was able to overcome his current elbow injury.

Chairman of selectors, Andrew Hilditch, said Lee remained a strong candidate for selection in Australia’s limited overs and Twenty20 squads.

“While Brett has announced his retirement from Test cricket, the (National Selection Panel) will continue to monitor his progress as he returns from injury and will be keeping a close eye on his form in the shorter formats,” he said.

Australia captain Ricky Ponting, said Lee was one of the greats of the game.

“That’s certainly the way he should be recognized,” Pointing said. “If we all just take a minute and think about what he’s put himself through in that 10 or 12 years - running 35 meters to bowl every ball, bowling every ball at close to 150 kph (93 mph), and putting his heart on the line every ball he bowls.

“I think this bloke deserves a massive pat on the back.”

Before making his decision, Lee took advice from England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, who also retired from test cricket to concentrate on one-dayers.

“I have always found him a really tough competitor every time I have played against him, but I know he has been struggling with injuries in recent months,” Flintoff said.

“From my own experience, I know how hard it is to keep performing at the highest level when you have a series of injuries but I am sure Brett will be remembered by cricket-lovers everywhere as an outstanding athlete, great fast bowler and a key part of Australia’s success.”

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