SYDNEY — Australia captain Michael Clarke said yesterday England will be a weaker team without Kevin Pietersen, but still expects a tough Ashes battle in July.
Clarke was speaking before his departure for the Caribbean where Australia play two Tests against the West Indies en route to England for the five-Test Ashes series, starting in Cardiff on July 8.
Pietersen (34), England’s leading all-time run-scorer across all formats, was told by new England director of cricket Andrew Strauss last week that he was “not part of our plans for the summer”, saying there was a “massive trust issue” between the England and Wales Cricket Board and the controversial batsman.
Clarke said he had mixed feelings about his long-time Ashes rival’s exclusion.
“There’s probably two sides for me,” Clarke told reporters.
“There’s the personal side where I feel for KP because I get on well with him and I’d love to see him back playing cricket for England.
“Any team without Kevin Pietersen in it I don’t think is as strong. His statistics speak for themselves.
“He’s been a wonderful player over a long period of time and he’s obviously still in career-best form.”