SYDNEY: Australia vice-captain Michael Clarke has quit the tour of New Zealand and flown home for personal reasons, officials said, as a report linked the move to a nude photo scandal involving his model fiancee.
Clarke left on Monday for “non-cricket” matters with the one-day series finely poised at 1-1, Cricket Australia said in a statement, adding that it was not clear when he would return.
“Michael is attending to personal, non-cricket matters and we ask on his behalf that his privacy be respected,” the governing body’s general manager Michael Brown said.
Sydney’s Daily Telegraph said Clarke wanted to be with his fiancee, swimwear model Lara Bingle, who has threatened to sue an Aussie Rules footballer after a photo of her in the shower appeared in a gossip magazine.
Bingle told the same magazine, Woman’s Day, this week that she felt “violated” by the photo, taken during a brief affair in 2006, adding that Clarke supports her in the “ups and downs that have happened in my life”.
“He is always there for me,” she said. Clarke has been replaced by batsman George Bailey for the one-day series, Cricket Australia said.