Michael Clarke has forced a change in Australia’s West Indies tour plans after pulling out of the start of the trip due to the serious condition of his fiancé’s father. Clarke was due to make his debut as Australia’s Test vice-captain following the retirement of Adam Gilchrist, but 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 of the father of Clarke’s fiancé Lara Bingle that is the most concerning. Graham Bingle has had liver cancer for more than a year and 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.”
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. “Despite the circumstances it is a huge honour to be given the role,” Hussey said, “even if it may only be for a short period of time.”
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.”
At the start of the camp on Monday, Clarke was as enthusiastic as when he joined the squad and was nicknamed ‘Pup’ for his effervescent nature. He was quizzing Brad Haddin about whether he had received all his gear for the tour and was in a hurry to start playing after feeling refreshed from his time away from the game.
He had avoided joining the Indian Premier League to stay home and “go fishing with the old man”, something he achieved. He also took Bingle, a model, to the United States, where he proposed in New York’s Central Park. “I made the decision [not to go to India] for my body and to spend time with my dad,” Clarke told the Herald this week. “It was really nice to be able to spend some time with my family and Lara.”
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.
Source:Cricket NewsMore on:Australia, Australia in West Indies 2008, Michael Clarke, West Indies
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Saturday, May 10th, 2008 and is filed under General, Cricket.
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