They’ll be teammates in the Big Bash League come summer but Michael Clarke thinks he might have to do battle with Kevin Pietersen for the Ashes before then.
Speaking at his unveiling as Melbourne Stars captain for the next two seasons, Clarke suggested his fellow 34-year-old could not only earn a stunning recall for England but cause his side difficulty during the five-Test series.
Pietersen hasn’t played first-class cricket since January 2014 in Sydney, where Australia completed a 5-0 whitewash of England during the last Ashes series.
But the South African-born batsman scored 170 runs last week against Oxford University and is eager to impress English selectors again.
The Australian Test skipper believes he’ll get there.
“I do think he could be at the Ashes,” Clarke said.
“His form, he’s showed that, he’s certainly scoring enough runs.
“He’s made it very clear he wants to play and now it will come down to the England selectors.
“At the moment, from the Australians’ perspective, I’m happy if he’s not playing because he’s a wonderful player.”
Australia, then skippered by Clarke, was put to the sword by a Pietersen-led England in the 2010 Twenty20 World Cup.
Pietersen swatted 47 off 31 in the final against Australia and was named player of the West Indies-hosted tournament.
Fast forward to next Australian summer and Clarke is happy he’ll be wearing the same green BBL uniform as him.
“It’s going to be nice to be on the same side,” he said.
“He’s a wonderful player and has been great for the Melbourne Stars.
“To have that luxury as captain to have a player like that in your team is extremely exciting and I know he’ll play a big part is us having success.”
Clarke said he had no thought about a return to the Indian Premier League, where he last played T20 cricket in 2012.
The first Ashes Test begins on July 8 in Cardiff.