Clarke pleased by KP omission

AFC Cup 2019: Hà Nội FC 3-2 Altyn Asyr FK (Nguyễn Văn Quyết Penalty 87′)

Clarke, whose side come to England to contest the Ashes this summer, is a personal friend of Pietersen and admits he does not like to see him struggle for reselection.

The Aussie skipper admits the Ashes series, which begins at Cardiff on July 8, will still be tough but hopes Pietersen???s absence will help his side.

Clarke said: “There are probably two sides in this for me.

???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.

“His form has been outstanding, he’s still a great player and I know he wants to play, so I feel for him on that side.

“The other is that we go there soon, to play against England, and 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.

“Playing away from home is your greatest challenge as an international sporting team and England will be tough. When we get there, no matter what 11 players they put on the field, they’re going to be really tough because they know their conditions well.???

Pietersen has been working tirelessly to earn a return to the England fold after being told he would never play for his country again after winter Ashes turmoil of 2013.

ECB chairman Colin Graves appeared to suggest a return was possible in early 2015 if Pietersen got his head down, returned to county cricket and recaptured the form capable of earning him an England place.

But new ECB cricket director Andrew Strauss said last week that Pietersen would not be selected this summer because of a ???massive trust issue??? between the two men.