Chris Gayle, the West Indies captain, will fly home to the Caribbean after admitting that his injured thumb and hamstring will not heal in time for him to play in any of the four remaining ODIs in South Africa.

"Given the most recent prognosis that I will require at least another two weeks of recovery before I could even consider picking up a bat again - furthermore being declared match fit - I have been granted permission by the WICB to return home to Jamaica to concentrate on getting better," Gayle wrote in his Cricinfo diary.

The news, though not entirely unexpected, is a blow to West Indies who lost the first one-dayer by six wickets in Centurion yesterday. Gayle, who injured his thumb in the second Test in Cape Town, has entrusted Bravo to steer the ship in his absence - but he too is combating his own injury after picking up a side strain during the Test series.

"I had already been feeling quite frustrated at just sitting around and having to watch my team-mates battling out in the middle without any contribution from me," Gayle said. "This injury update only made me feel worse. I therefore spoke to team management and the WICB chief executive, Dr. Donald Peters, who was here in South Africa, and expressed the view that it would be best for me to head back to the Caribbean immediately and focus on recovering fully. Sitting on the sidelines was really beginning to affect me.

"We will be hosting two top teams, Sri Lanka and Australia, in the coming months and I definitely want to be 100 percent fit for those matches. So leaving the tour is the most logical step at this stage."

Clive Lloyd, the West Indies' team manager, said: "This gives an opportunity for the younger players to show their mettle and step up to the plate."

West Indies host Sri Lanka for two Tests and three one-dayers in March and April, with Australia arriving for three Tests and five ODIs in May.