Clarke's decision to leave New Zealand not a 'last-minute' move

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Auckland, Mar 11(ANI): Australian vice-captain Michael Clarke's decision to leave New Zealand in the middle of a tour over the drama surrounding his fiancee, Lara Bingle, is not as last-minute as it was portrayed, and it is believed that he had made his decision at least 48 hours before he packed his bags.

According to reports, Clarke had already been in serious talks with Cricket Australia (CA) boss James Sutherland at a Wellington hotel, and was believed to have been tiring of his off-field commitments tied to the Australian Twenty20 captaincy even before the drama became common knowledge.

CA knew of the potential trouble, and according to CA operations manager Michael Brown, skipper Ricky Ponting has decided that he wants Clarke back only when his personal problems surrounding Bingle are resolved.

"He's only just arrived home, we'll give him time to make the right decisions. There is no point in forcing any player to go back into a cricket team when he's not comfortable because the team won't be comfortable to have him," The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Brown, as saying.

"That's the message the captain has given me. He wants Michael back 100 per cent committed to cricket," he added.rown also said that he spoke to Clarke, but added no definitive call had been made on whether he would rejoin the squad.

"He's keen to play again, but we have decided to give him another 24 hours to assess the things that are happening in his life right now. There has been no decision, but we resolved to keep talking over the next few days," Brown said.

Clarke's decision to abandon the tour has attracted criticism in cricket circles with former players Ian Chappell and Mark Waugh questioning whether he was fit to one day replace Ponting as captain.

Sources close to Clarke revealed he was desperate to return to the Test side, especially with his credentials as a future Australian captain being seriously questioned.

He was yesterday named in a 14-man squad for the upcoming two-match series against New Zealand.

The first Test starts in Wellington on March 19. (ANI)

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