[caption id="attachment_288025" align="aligncenter" width="628"]<img class="size-full wp-image-288025" alt="England will be weaker without Kevin Pietersen, says Michael Clarke" src="https://www.cricketcountry.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Michael-Clarke-of-Australia-has-words-with-Kevin-Pietersen-of-England-during-day-4.jpg" width="628" height="355" /> Michael Clarke (left) said he had mixed feelings about his long-time Ashes rival, Kevin Pietersen's exclusion Getty Images[/caption] <p></p> <p></p><strong>Sydney:</strong> <a href="https://www.cricketcountry.com/teams/australia" target="_blank">Australia</a> captain <a href="https://www.cricketcountry.com/players/Michael-Clarke" target="_blank">Michael Clarke</a> said on Sunday <a href="https://www.cricketcountry.com/teams/England" target="_blank">England</a> will be a weaker team without <a href="https://www.cricketcountry.com/players/Kevin-Pietersen" target="_blank">Kevin Pietersen</a>, but still expects a tough <a href="https://www.cricketcountry.com/series/The-Ashes-2015/2285" target="_blank">Ashes 2015</a> battle in July. Clarke was speaking before his departure for the Caribbean where Australia play two Tests against <a href="https://www.cricketcountry.com/teams/West-Indies" target="_blank">West Indies</a> en route to England for the five-Test Ashes series, starting in Cardiff on July 8. <strong><a title="England, Kevin Pietersen and the farce in name of cricket management" href="https://www.cricketcountry.com/articles/england-kevin-pietersen-and-the-farce-in-name-of-cricket-management-286839">England, Kevin Pietersen and the farce in name of cricket management</a></strong> <p></p> <p></p>Pietersen, 34, England's leading all-time run-scorer across all formats, was told by new England director of cricket <a href="https://www.cricketcountry.com/players/Andrew-Strauss" target="_blank">Andrew Strauss</a> last week that he was "not part of our plans for the summer", saying there was a "massive trust issue" between the <a href="https://www.cricketcountry.com/tag/ecb" target="_blank">England and Wales Cricket Board</a> (ECB) and the controversial batsman. <strong><a href="https://www.cricketcountry.com/articles/mediocre-england-have-plenty-to-worry-about-ahead-of-new-zealand-australia-series-282956">Mediocre England have plenty to worry about ahead of New Zealand, Australia series</a></strong> <p></p> <p></p>Clarke said he had mixed feelings about his long-time Ashes rival's exclusion. <strong><a href="https://www.cricketcountry.com/articles/kevin-pietersen-vs-severus-snape-men-misunderstood-by-default-287995">Kevin Pietersen vs Severus Snape: Men misunderstood by default!</a></strong> <p></p> <p></p>"There's probably two sides for me," Clarke told reporters. <strong><a href="https://www.cricketcountry.com/articles/adam-lyths-selection-comes-as-a-positive-sign-amidst-englands-cricketing-saga-287304">Adam Lyth s selection comes as a positive sign for England</a></strong> <p></p> <p></p>"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 side (is) we go there soon to play against 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." <strong><a href="https://www.cricketcountry.com/articles/kevin-pietersens-exclusion-from-england-squad-will-not-make-a-difference-286896">Kevin Pietersen's exclusion from England squad will not make a difference</a></strong> <p></p> <p></p>Clarke's views follow those of Australia teammates <a href="https://www.cricketcountry.com/players/Ryan-Harris" target="_blank">Ryan Harris</a> and <a href="https://www.cricketcountry.com/players/Peter-Siddle" target="_blank">Peter Siddle</a>, who last week voiced their relief that Pietersen will not be playing for England as the Australians bid to end a 14-year Test series drought in the United Kingdom. <strong><a title="England cricket must be profoundly ashamed for its treatment of once-in-a-generation cricketer like Kevin Pietersen" href="https://www.cricketcountry.com/articles/england-cricket-must-be-profoundly-ashamed-for-its-treatment-of-once-in-a-generation-cricketer-like-kevin-pietersen-286507">England cricket must be ashamed for its treatment of Kevin Pietersen</a></strong> <p></p> <p></p>Irrespective of the situation with Pietersen, Clarke said he expects Australia will face a difficult England side playing on their home pitches. <strong><a title="Kevin Pietersen: A hero England need but do not deserve!" href="https://www.cricketcountry.com/articles/kevin-pietersen-the-hero-england-need-but-do-not-deserve-286497">Kevin Pietersen: A hero England need but do not deserve!</a></strong> <p></p> <p></p>"Playing away from home is your greatest challenge as an international sporting team and England will be tough," Clarke said. <p></p> <p></p>"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. <p></p> <p></p>"As are West Indies, and it's really important we stay focused this West Indies tour and have some success there." <p></p> <p></p>Australia's first Test against West Indies begins in Dominica on June 3 followed a week later by a second Test in Kingston.