Brett Lee, the Kings XI Punjab fast bowler, will miss the rest of the IPL and return to Australia after breaking his right thumb during the victory against Mumbai Indians on April 9. The latest setback jeopardises Lee's participation in the upcoming World Twenty20 tournament.

"It is unfortunate that Brett Lee has to leave the tournament due to a fractured thumb," said Kumar Sangakkara, the captain of Punjab, who said he hoped Lee would not miss the World Twenty20. "I hope not as we know he is a world-class performer and we would like him to be back fit soon."

Lee had just returned from elbow surgery in December and went wicketless in four IPL games, increasing the concerns over his ability to return to top-level action. Tim Nielsen, the Australia coach, was hopeful Lee will be part of the squad for the side's entry into the competition early next month.

''All we can do is wait and see how it reacts over the next four or five days before we have our camp and head off to the West Indies," Nielsen told the Age on Wednesday. "Hopefully it will heal, and the scans and things he's having at the moment will show exactly the nature of the damage and what the likelihood of him playing is."

Lee's agent, Neil Maxwell, however felt the fast bowler shouldn't rush his comeback. ''While it would be wonderful for him to be able to play in it, I don't think the Twenty20 World Cup is the be-all and end-all," Maxwell told the same paper. "Brett has constantly rushed to get back into things because of timing, and whenever he has had a good break he's come back firing on eight cylinders. I'd rather him be at 100% when he plays for his country.''