Michael Clarke withdraws temporarily from Windies tour

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Melbourne, May 9 : Australian vice-captain Michael Clarke has pulled out of the first half of the national team's tour to the West Indies due to the serious condition of his fiance Lara Bingle's father.

The batsman will not leave with the team on Saturday after being granted compassionate leave by Cricket Australia.

Clarke's dad Les has Hodgkin's disease, but it is the condition ofGraham Bingle who has had liver cancer for more than a year that has had both families worried.

Clarke left the team camp in Brisbane before its conclusion on Friday to fly to Sydney.

"I will not be travelling to the West Indies with the team due to family reasons," Clarke said in a short statement. "I am looking forward to getting over there as soon as possible," he added.

The withdrawal of Clarke came as a surprise to some of his team-mates and a Cricket Australia spokesman said his arrival date in the West Indies was currently unclear.

Michael Hussey has been handed the vice-captaincy and Brad Hodge has been named as a shadow player.

Hodge is currently in the Indian Premier League with the Kolkata Knight Riders, but will fly to the West Indies until Clarke arrives. He is expected to meet up with the team in either Dubai or London on their indirect journey to the Caribbean.

"Brad has had another strong domestic season with Victoria in all forms of the game," the chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch said.

"He is still very highly regarded by the panel and this provides him with another opportunity to be involved with the Australian squad."

Clarke and Bingle were engaged in March and they have been supporting each other through the illnesses of their parents.

"My sister Leanne phoned to tell me my father had cancer," Clarke told the Sydney Morning Herald last year. "It showed me that it could all be over tomorrow. You don't choose."

Clarke has been destined for national leadership duties since he won his first Test cap, but achieving a position of responsibility has not been as smooth as the predictions.

He was named vice-captain for the Chappell-Hadlee Series in New Zealand in 2007 before being ruled out with a hip injury, but led the Twenty20 team in Perth later that year when Ricky Ponting was rested.

ANI

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