Australia include Clarke in squad

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Vice-captain Michael Clarke has been named in Australia's Test squad for the tour of New Zealand despite returning home during the current one-day international series for personal reasons.

Clarke returned to Australia just before the third match of the ODI series on Tuesday to be with his fiancee Lara Bingle who is at the centre of a scandal that blew up when naked pictures of her taken by a former boyfriend appeared in a magazine. Cricket Australia has admitted it is still unsure whether the 28-year-old right-hander will return for the two-Test series, which begins in Wellington on 19 March, but has named him in a 14-man squad that includes uncapped leg-spinner Steven Smith.

"I'm hoping he'll be there, but he hasn't given me a drop-dead date," the CA deputy chief, Michael Brown, said of Clarke's possible return to New Zealand. "I'm hoping to talk and see him later today, we need to address those issues because Andrew [Hilditch, chairman of selectors] has a team to run, but we also respect that he needs time. He only just got home and we want to give him time to make the right decisions.

"There's no point in forcing any player to go back into a 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 [Ponting] wants Michael back 100 per cent committed to cricket and that's when he wants him back."

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