AS BRETT Lee flew to South Africa in an effort to prove his readiness for a comeback, fellow fast bowler Shaun Tait still had not received permission to play in the Indian Premier League, raising fresh questions about his fitness and future as a Cricket Australia-contracted player.
Tait is in an unusual position because he is regarded as a specialist in the short forms of the game and, while he attracted a $US375,000 ($524,461) price tag from the Rajasthan Royals, has no guarantees from Cricket Australia beyond June 30, when his national contract expires.
The 26-year-old, who was troubled by hamstring soreness throughout the summer and used in short bursts at international level, last week was named in Australia’s preliminary squad for the World Twenty20 championships in England, and is expected to consult Cricket Australia medical staff in Melbourne this week seeking clearance to join Shane Warne and Graeme Smith at the Royals from April 18.
Should CA refuse to release him, the powerful paceman could come to represent the modern dilemma between club and country. He could conceivably earn more by extending his time in the IPL, without the restrictions of a national contract.
Rick Olarenshaw from the Essentially group that manages Tait said the paceman was “ready to play” but confirmed CA had not given its blessing because of concerns about his body. A CA spokesman said Tait’s rehabilitation from a hamstring tendon injury was being monitored and when he was cleared it would be for all levels of cricket, not just the IPL.
Lee is also awaiting clearance to return from foot surgery — either in this month’s limited-overs series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates or with the Punjab Kings XI in the IPL — and he has previously declared his ambition to again grasp the new ball for this year’s Ashes.
Lee’s manager, Neil Maxwell, said the fast bowler had journeyed to South Africa with NSW physiotherapist Pat Farhart and a fitness trainer to step up his training and confer with Australian team medical staff during the one-day series against the Proteas.
“He has gone over there to do some bowling outdoors and the Australian cricket team will be in the same city at some point so he’s going to catch up with the medical staff there,” Maxwell said.
Australia’s selectors are expected to announce a squad for the Pakistan series this week, but cannot unveil the list of contracted players for 2009-10 until a new pay deal is in place. It is believed the number of contracts offered will remain at 25, but the size of the player-payment pool remains a sticking point between CA and the player union.
Source – theage.com.au