Injured Taylor out of Sri Lanka tour

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The Independent Online

Australia's captain, Mark Taylor, yesterday pulled out of the touring side due to visit Sri Lanka later this month because of a back injury, as the status of the tour and the fitness of leading spinner Shane Warne still remain in doubt.

Taylor has a back injury, and his role as captain is expected to be filled by the wicketkeeper Ian Healy, with Steve Waugh the new vice-captain, should the tour go ahead.

The Australian Board is expected to make a decision on whether to take part in the two-week, four-nation tournament on Friday. The ACB's policy requires a marked improvement in safety conditions on the island as the 13-year civil war continues.

Australia forfeited its World Cup opener in Colombo in February after a suicide bombing killed 91 people and injured 1,400 in the capital's main financial district. Two weeks ago, another 70 people died in a commuter train bombing on the outskirts of Colombo.

Warne's tour status is subject to a three-day fitness test on his injured finger in Brisbane later this week. The leg-spinner required regular cortisone injections last season and in late May had surgery around the knuckle on the fourth finger of his right hand.

The Victoria state captain has also just overcome a sore shoulder, and Australia may not want to risk losing their leading attacking bowler with a five-Test series against the West Indies looming in November.

n Mike Gatting is set to return to lead Middlesex in their County Championship match against Worcestershire which starts at Lord's tomorrow, less than two weeks after the former England captain underwent knee surgery.

The Hampshire opener Jason Laney has been ruled out for the next three weeks after breaking a bone in his hand. Laney, 23, suffered the injury while bowling in the nets.

The Sussex all-rounder Robin Martin-Jenkins is suffering from glandular fever and will miss the rest of the season. The 20-year-old, the son of the journalist and broadcaster Christopher, fell ill last month.