Australian news March 11, 2010

Current crisis won't affect Clarke's future role - Steve Waugh

Cricinfo staff

Steve Waugh, the former Australia captain, believes Michael Clarke's decision to quit the tour of New Zealand will not affect his chances of becoming a Test captain. Clarke, currently the Test and ODI vice-captain and Twenty20 captain, returned home on Sunday to sort out his troubled relationship with fiancee Lara Bingle, who is at the centre of a nude photo controversy.

Clarke's sudden departure sparked debate over his suitability to eventually replace Ricky Ponting as Australia's next Test and one-day captain, with Ian Chappell and Mark Waugh among those questioning his future role. However, Waugh said Clarke's leadership ambitions should be judged by his performances and not off-the-field incidents.

"I hope it doesn't affect his captaincy, I don't think it would," Waugh told the Australian. "Michael has captained the team in the past and I don't think this would stop that in the future."

Waugh said other Test players had experienced similar situations in the past without leaving the team. "It's a difficult one, it's a personal issue," he said. "If it was for the benefit of the team and Michael then these things have to be negotiated.

"Everyone is different, some players like to have their families around them when they are on tour, others prefer solititude. It helps them concentrate on the cricket pitch. It's important to have a good support network around them, if you have a look at the top players who play for a long time they all have good support."

Clarke has been named in a 14-man squad for the two-Test series against New Zealand later this month, but Michael Brown, Cricket Australia's general manager of cricket, said he did not know when the batsman would return.

"I've talked to him over the last few days and we have a Test tour looming," Brown said. "I would hope he's part of that group. 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 and that's the message the captain has given me. Ricky wants Michael back 100% committed to cricket, that's when he wants him back.

"We'll talk again over the next couple of days and our intention hopefully is to get him back in the side for the Test match."