Clarke in Wellington, offers no comment on Bingle

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Wellington, Mar.15 (ANI): Australian cricket vice-captain Michael Clarke has arrived in Wellington, but refused to answer a barrage of questions related to his private life with one-time fiancee and television personality-cum-model Lara Bingle, which ended last week.

Cricket Australia representatives guided Clarke to a waiting car, parked 300 meters from the Wellington Airport terminal.

"I have no comment," he said repeatedly to the group of about 20 journalists on his return to the Australian cricket team's New Zealand tour, from which he left last week to end his engagement to Sydney celebrity model Lara Bingle.

Journalists tripped over each other to get a piece of Clarke as he pushed his luggage trolley through the media pack.

Clarke took a phone call in the car as the group left the airport, and shielded his face from the cameras.

Back in Sydney, plumbers turned up twice this morning at Clarke's Bondi home in an apparent bid to find the missing 200,000 Australian dollar engagement ring of former fiance Lara Bingle.

The plumbers arrived at 8.45 a.m., brandishing a metal detector, but left soon after when they were spotted by the media.

The workmen returned an hour later and were spotted going over building plans of the exclusive Bondi apartment block.

Both men refused to comment.

Allegations also emerged that a photographer was seen going through the building's rubbish.

Clarke was decidedly unimpressed this morning after learning a Channel Seven reporter and cameraman had booked themselves onto his Qantas flight to New Zealand.

Cricket Australia officials briefed Clarke of the development on his way to Sydney International Airport, and the Australian vice-captain was said to be upset that the television crew had booked themselves business class tickets, presumably in an attempt to interview him on the flight.

Clarke arrived at the airport 20 minutes after his NSW teammates Simon Katich, Steven Smith and Phillip Hughes and was immediately confronted by a small army of media.

CA officials had arranged to have his bags checked in separately, allowing Clarke to make a quick dash through the departure terminal and on to Customs.

"No comment, sorry guys," was Clarke's only offering to the waiting media as he walked stone-faced through the airport, accompanied by CA operations manager Michael Brown and his agent, Chris White.

Brown believes Clarke is mentally equipped to deal with the predicted needling from New Zealand spectators at the Basin Reserve during the first Test, beginning on Friday.

"He's had a difficult time, he's made some difficult decisions but I'm convinced he's ready to play for Australia. He's convinced me of that. We look forward to him getting over there now," said Brown.

Steve Smith, barely 12 hours removed from winning the Steve Waugh Medal, was confident his vice-captain would not let the off-field circus created by his split from Bingle detract from his performances during the two-Test series.

"The players are fully committed to Michael Clarke. I'm sure he's had a pretty tough time of it lately," Smith told The Australian.

"I'm not really sure what's going on with the matter (Lara Bingle). It is really none of my business. I'm sure he'll get through this and will want to do well for Australia", Smith said of his sometimes NSW team mate. (ANI)

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