Bradman, Tendulkar in different league: Brett Lee

"It is always hard to compare players from different eras. I believe the best players in one era would compare with the best in others. That said, Bradman and Tendulkar are two players that stand out amongst all batsman. They are in a league of their own," said Lee in an e-mail interview to PTI.

The 34-year-old Australian, who has retired from Tests, was reacting to a question whether it was proper to compare the Indian batting maestro with the late Australian legend when the two players had played under vastly different circumstances, rules and conditions.

Lee, who formed a lethal pace bowling partnership with fellow-Australians Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie that helped keep his country on top for more than a decade in the highest form of the game, was emphatic that Tendulkar was the best-ever batsman he had bowled to.

He also hailed the champion batsman for his stupendous feats of completing 50 Test tons and being the first and only batsman to score a double hundred in ODIs, and was wholesome in praise of the Indian maestro for getting a barrage of runs against top class pace away from home.

"I have consistently said that Sachin is the best player I have bowled to. He is like a good bottle of wine, getting better with age. He is one of my favourite players and I am thrilled for him. He got these runs against real pace away from home. He is a true class," Lee said.

Looking at the current state of Australian cricket in the after match of its comprehensive 1-3 loss in the Ashes series against England, the New South Welshman, who has taken 310 wickets in 76 Tests and 324 in 186 ODIs, felt his country can bounce back in a few years' time by introducing new players and changing its policies which worked in the past.

"It is disappointing for Australia to lose and to lose the way we have. That said, we have been at the top for almost 15 years and we need to start introducing new players to the team. Australia will be back at the top very soon," he said.

"I think we need 2-3 years for our new rung of players to settle and for a team to be built. The talent is there -this I have no doubt! I think we need to start afresh and change some of the policies that worked for us whilst we had the players the calibre of Warne & co."

"For example, I don't think we can afford the luxury of resting players the way we were able to do previously," said Lee, whose thunderbolt was clocked once at 160-kmph in speed.

The blond Australian bowler, who has also cut a music disc, "You're the One For Me" with Indian singing legend Asha Bhosle, said no team in the world can afford to lose so many world-class players in succession and still remain on top.

"No country could sustain the loss of not only half its team but also 3-4 of the best players in world. McGrath and (Shane) Warne are two of the greats of the game - throw them the ball and the game changes. (Adam) Gilchrist, (Matthew) Hayden and co. are game changers also, 10 overs and they have altered the way in which a match or series is going.

"Australia has the depth, they just need to be exposed to the Test level as soon as possible and importantly, given a chance to settle at that level. We have made a lot of changes over short periods of time, something Australian cricket hasn't done since the 80s," said the tear-away fast bowler.

Lee said he intended to play in limited overs cricket, especially the T20 version like the cash-rich Indian Premier League, for three to four years more, and importantly he is still active in domestic first class cricket.

"I have 3-4 years left playing T20. I am bowling at 150 km an hour and taking wickets. I think I am the leading wicket taker in our domestic competition at the moment but more importantly, I am bowling as fast as I ever have and I feel very strong."

"Where I feel I can add further value is the coaching of express bowling. Express pace is playing more and more of a key role within the T20 game."

"I have deliberately kept playing for NSW (New South Wales) and I will do so to ensure that I am at the top of my game. I don't think you can not play competitive cricket and then walk back into IPL," Lee added.

"Gilly (Gilchrist) is a freak and can get away with it for a season or two but it is a game of millimetres and you need to be at your best. I will keep playing whilst I have an IPL contract (also because I love it!)," Lee said.

His views were similar on West Indian great Brian Lara's intended return to cricket through IPL but he also pointed out that one can never dismiss a player of Lara's caliber though he has not played competitive cricket for long.

"I have probably touched on that above. I think Brian is an outstanding player and let's face it, T20 is changing what we think players can do. Look at some of the shots and the fielding. I would never write any player of the calibre of Brian Lara off."

Lee, who played for IPL outfit Kings XI Punjab in its first three seasons, and will play for Kolkata Knight Riders this season, said though the recent Test contests between England and Australia as well as India-South Africa were well attended, the proposed Test Championship by the International Cricket Council was the need of the hour.

"I think it is necessary. There has to be a context for other matches outside of these series. Test cricket needs to be given a structure where the best team can be acknowledged," he concluded.