Australia fast bowler Shaun Tait will be missing from Shane Warne's defending champion Rajasthan Royals when the IPL Twenty20 side opens play on Saturday against Bangalore in South Africa.
Cricket Australia has not allowed Tait, who was the first player chosen in the Indian Premier League draft in February, to play because of concerns that he has not recovered from a left hamstring tear sustained two months ago.
Tait, who was named in Australia's 30-man squad for the Twenty20 World Cup in June, was signed for $375,000 by the Royals at the IPL auction. The money is paid on a prorata basis for each match played in the 59-match tournament.
"Shaun Tait won't be playing IPL," Cricket Australia spokesman Peter Young said. "He's still working through the rehab program and it has been determined that he won't be playing IPL. He has a hamstring injury and there's associated issues behind the hamstring injury."
The Weekend Australian newspaper, however, quoted unnamed officials on Saturday as saying that Tait was close to full fitness after almost two months of a radical treatment involving injections of his own blood into the problem area.
The newspaper quoted Tait's manager, Andrew McRitchie, as saying the Cricket Australia decision was "very disappointing" as Tait had been making good progress in his rehabilitation. "The IPL was the only chance to prove his fitness before the squad for the Twenty20 World Cup was picked," McRitchie said. "How he proves that now, I don't know."
Tait joins a long list of Australians not playing in the IPL tournament this year.
Shane Watson, player of the season last year, was named in the Australia squad for a series against Pakistan in Dubai and Abu Dhabi beginning on Wednesday, also making him unavailable for the Royals. The 26-year-old Watson scored 472 runs at an average of 42 in the IPL last year.
Also missing will be troubled allrounder Andrew Symonds, who was been out of the Australian lineup for several months until his recall for the Pakistan series, and fast bowler Brett Lee, who was initially named in squad to play Pakistan but was later ruled out and replaced by Doug Bollinger.
Test skipper Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey are both being rested to prepare for the Ashes campaign against England in two months. Hussey, who is playing against Pakistan, would have been available for only the final two weeks of the IPL, which ends with the final on May 24 in Johannesburg.
Michael Clarke, who will captain Australia in Ponting's absence against Pakistan _ that series ends May 7 _ and pace bowler Mitchell Johnson, will also miss this year's eight-team IPL. Clarke and Johnson did not play in the inaugural IPL and did not nominate for the player auction.