Australian cricket legend Ian Chappell has cast doubts over Michael Clarke's suitability as a future Test captain, after he dashed back across the Tasman to be at the side of his controversy-prone fiancée in the middle of ODI series against New Zealand.
Clarke will return to New Zealand in time for Australia's two-match Test series next week, after he left the Australian squad on the eve of the third one-day international against New Zealand in Hamilton.
Clarke maintained a low profile upon his arrival in Sydney, while fiancée Lara Bingle made known her feelings over the naked photo scandal with a one-fingered salute to camera crews outside the couple's Bondi home.
Cricket Australia declined to comment on Clarke's hasty departure from the New Zealand tour, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Ian Chappell, the former Australian captain, expressed concern at Clarke's "stability and durability" as a future Test leader, and said the move to rush to Bingle's side mid-tour was "[not] doing him a lot of good".
"The first thing you need in an Australian captain is someone who is going to be there all the time. In other words, you can't afford to have someone who gets injured a bit, like Michael does, or has other issues that occasionally need to be sorted out," he said.
"I understand that situations can come along where things need to be sorted out domestically but if I was a selector, it would be in the back of my mind.
"I'd be thinking, 'Well, if we have another candidate the equal to this Michael Clarke, he might be worth looking at'. Stability and durability, to me, are very important factors in an Australian captain. They might not be right at the top of the list but they're right up there," Chappell said.
Clarke's departure prompted selectors to rush Tasmania's George Bailey to New Zealand for the final two limited-overs matches of the Chappell-Hadlee series.