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Last Updated: Monday, 24 January, 2005, 17:26 GMT
Brett Lee warned off county duty
Brett Lee
Lee has been Australia's most frequent drinks carrier this season
Australia paceman Brett Lee has been told to reject the chance to play for a county in England this year if he wants a place on the Ashes tour.

He therefore looks set to reject four separate offers from counties.

But the 28-year-old desperately needs more match-play after six consecutive appearances as Australia's 12th man.

"CA felt it would be too much of a drain on him and we would be silly not to follow their advice," said Lee's manager Neil Maxwell.

"If he wasn't playing at all it would be a big step [to play in the Ashes] but with the amount of one-day cricket between now and then it shouldn't be a problem."

Lee's county availability would be between the end of the New Zealand tour in April and the start of the Ashes tour in June.

Worcestershire, Surrey, Leicestershire and Middlesex were the counties thought to be interested in hiring the fast bowler.

Australia will bring four or five pacemen to England with Lee, Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie, Michael Kasprowicz and Shaun Tait all in the picture.

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