Michael Clarke and Kevin Pietersen will headline a new-look cricket commentary team this summer, Channel Nine confirmed on Tuesday.
Clarke has commentated sparingly for Nine in the past and has impressed with his insight, while Pietersen – who will play for the Melbourne Stars in this summer’s Big Bash League – has filled a similar bit-part role on Network Ten.
The new arrivals meant there was no place for former Australian stars Brett Lee and Michael Hussey on Nine’s team, while James Brayshaw will also play no part.
A commentary team for the Pakistan series which follows is likely to be announced in “early December”, a Nine spokesperson said, with Pietersen set to be replaced due to his Big Bash League playing and broadcasting commitments.
Englishman Mark Nicholas will host Nine’s coverage again this summer with ex-Australian captain Mark Taylor to lead the commentary team.
For the South Africa series, Taylor will be joined by Shane Warne, Ian Chappell, Michael Slater, Ian Healy, Clarke and Pietersen.
“Summer is in the air, the cicadas are sounding and that means it’s time for international cricket,” Nine director of sport Tom Malone said.
“Our commentators and production team are primed to give viewers the best seat in the house all summer long.”
An interesting and varied summer is on the menu for Australian cricket fans, with New Zealand and Sri Lanka also visiting.
Steve Smith’s side will play three home one-day internationals against New Zealand in December and three on the road in late January to early February.
Sri Lanka will then visit for three Twenty20 internationals just before a four-Test tour of India begins.
Changes also at Network Ten
Last week, Network Ten announced Andrew Symonds, Darren Lehmann and Brendon McCullum would join their team for the Big Bash League.
The trio will complement the existing Ten team, headed by Ricky Ponting and Mark Waugh.
Pietersen will also provide special comments for Ten during matches.
Other members of the Ten team include Adam Gilchrist, Damien Fleming, Roz Kelly, Mel Jones and Lisa Sthalekar but it appears English funnyman Andrew Flintoff will not be involved.
Symonds will commentate four matches for Ten, with McCullum to join in between his playing duties with the Brisbane Heat.
Lehmann will make two appearances during the series.
The acquisitions saw Network Ten’s Big Bash executive David Barham claim his team was the best in Australia.
“The addition of Symonds, Lehmann and McCullum to Network Ten’s commentary team ensures that our coverage of the KFC Big Bash League will continue to be a first-class television experience for fans of all ages,” he said.
“Network Ten has the most exciting and contemporary cricket commentary team.
“To have the current Australian coach in the commentary box for the KFC Big Bash League is unprecedented for fans around the country and something that we are very much looking forward to.”
Ratings for the Big Bash League last summer were huge, with an average audience of 1.04 million per match.
Network Ten won a Logie Award for their coverage of the tournament, which begins this year on December 20.