Cricket: White ruled out through injury

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CRAIG WHITE, the Yorkshire all-rounder, is out of the England side for tomorrow's second Test against South Africa with a double stress fracture of his left leg.

The 24-year-old, who made his debut against New Zealand this summer, could also miss this winter's Ashes tour of Australia after being told he should not play any further cricket this season.

White had an X-ray yesterday and Ray Illingworth, England's chairman of selectors, admitted a bone scan should have been carried out earlier. But Dave Roberts, the England physiotherapist, said that both he and Yorkshire had 'done everything to ensure Craig was looked after properly'.

White, who has taken pain- killers before every spell of bowling for England, said the only time he felt free of pain was on the Saturday of the Old Trafford Test in July, when he took three New Zealand wickets in by far his most impressive spell for England.

'I only hope people remember that spell, because it's an indication of what I can do with the ball,' White said. 'I haven't really tried to bowl fast until this season and I didn't know whether the shin soreness I had was a genuine injury or just a niggle.

'I don't know when the fractures occurred - it could have been this last weekend when I struggled, or earlier. The shins were very sore a month ago - similar to now.'

Roberts said White would have to rest for at least six weeks. 'We are still waiting for the specialist's report,' he said. 'But Craig can start his rehabilitation programme now. When he's rested he can start to build up his leg strength.'

Illingworth added: 'There is time for him to get fit enough for the Australian tour, which starts in mid-October - but not a lot of time. He's done well this summer and is very much in the frame for the tour. But he's very disappointed now and he's got to prove his fitness first.'

Illingworth said no replacement would be called up for White, and England will now field six specialist batsmen, leaving Joey Benjamin or Phil Tufnell out of the 12.

Tufnell, however, is looking forward to his return to the England side following a well- publicised summer of discontent. Along with Mike Atherton, Tufnell knows he will not escape some barracking from the Headingley crowd, but he is well prepared for it. 'I never take much notice of that sort of thing,' he said yesterday. 'But if it happens it normally gives me a bit of a gee-up.

'If you're being called all the names under the sun then it makes you want to go and bowl well. There will be no problems with anything like that. I'm confident about knuckling down. My life is back to normal - in fact, it's never really been abnormal.'

In a reference to last week's Atherton dirt-in-the-pocket affair, Illingworth said: 'I don't think that will have any effect on the players in this Test - they have enough to concentrate on without thinking about all that.'

The South African captain, Kepler Wessels, is to play despite fears that his right arm is broken. Wessels, hit just below the elbow by a ball from Leicestershire's Alan Mullally on Monday, said: 'The X-rays suggest there might be a hairline crack, but I am in no doubt for the Test.

'I had a net this morning, with the arm heavily strapped, but there was swelling and I had problems holding the bat. It is painful but it will be OK by Thursday.'

Wessels' vice-captain, the batsman Hansie Cronje, will today sign a one-year contract with Leicestershire, replacing Phil Simmons as their overseas player next year. Simmons is likely to be touring England with the West Indies.

(Photograph omitted)

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