QUEENSLAND Bulls paceman Ben Cutting has twice gone agonisingly close to playing Test cricket for Australia over the past couple of seasons.
Untimely injuries unfortunately ruled him out of contention.
But with Brett Lee announcing his retirement yesterday, it might be a case of third time lucky for the Queensland Bulls Player of the Year.
Lee returned home early from the one-day tour of England with a calf strain and decided that enough was enough for his 35-year-old body.
The 25-year-old Cutting won't have long to wait to stake his claim to replace the veteran fast bowler.
Cutting, who took 36 wickets at an average of 18.75 and scored 322 runs at 29.29, including three half centuries, in the Sheffield Shield last season, leaves for England on Monday with the Australian A team.
The team, to be captained by Test opener Ed Cowan, will play three-day games against Derbyshire and Durham before four-day unofficial 'Tests' against the England Lions at Old Trafford and Edgbaston.
Cutting will share the fast bowling duties with Alister McDermott, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson and Jackson Bird.
With the curtain coming down on Lee's career, Cutting said the auditions to replace him were sure to start on the three-week tour.
"There is no doubt about," Cutting said just after putting pen to paper on a two-year deal with the Brisbane Heat for the Big Bash League.
"He (Lee) has left a huge void to fill. You could say that I am not to only quick who would love to fill it, but the competition for fast bowlers is always fierce and it will be even more so now.
"There has also been a big turnover in quicks of late which means more opportunities - the worry is that you could be part of the turnover.
"All I can do is just concentrate on taking wickets and bowling to the best of my ability and see what happens."
Lee said he was still keen to play in the Big Bash League and Indian Premier League.
Brett Lee's life in the fast lane
- Wickets: 310 (Tests), 380 (ODI), 28 (Twenty20)
- Best bowling: 5/30 (Tests), 5/22 (ODI), 3/23 (Twenty20)
- Highest scores: 64 (Tests), 59 (ODI), 43* (Twenty20)
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