Flintoff will be fit for 3rd Ashes Test: Strauss

England captain Andrew Strauss expects Andrew Flintoff to be available for the third Ashes Test against Australia.

updated: July 27, 2009 13:34 IST
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England captain Andrew Strauss expects Andrew Flintoff to be available for the third Ashes test against Australia.

Flintoff has been troubled by a knee problem that threatens his participation in the remaining three matches of the series, which resumes in Birmingham on Thursday.

But Strauss is encouraged by the all-rounder's fitness and is confident he will continue to spearhead England's attack.

"All the indications are that Andrew will be fine. We need to see how he goes over the next couple of days during practice," Strauss said on Monday. "But at this stage we are very confident and obviously he will want to build on his performance at Lord's.

"I spoke to him the day after the second Test at a charity dinner and he said then he was recovering well. That's encouraging. He won't have bowled until practice tomorrow but has been in constant contact with our medical team."

England leads the series 1-0 and Strauss confirmed that Ian Bell will bat at four as a direct replacement for the injured Kevin Pietersen, who will sit out the rest of the series following Achilles surgery.

"Ian Bell will come in for Pietersen at four. We're very clear on that," Strauss said. "It causes the least possible disruption to other members of the side. We're all very excited for Ian. He was left out of the team and had to work very hard to get his place back.

"He's done a huge amount of work on and off the field. He's very hungry. We're excited to have him back in the team."

Bell backed his captain's decision to throw him in at four.

"It obviously makes a lot of sense with the team playing so well at Lord's. Just to swap straight in for KP makes a lot of sense," he said. "The team's been playing some very good cricket, and it's just nice to be in the XI. It's been great to be in the squad, but now to get out there on the field is going to be nice."

The Warwickshire batsman has come in for some criticism from the Australians in the past and has averaged just 25.10 in 10 tests against them - far below his career mark of 40.59.

Bell acknowledged he has much to prove against England's Ashes rivals.

"Of all the countries I've played, I've played well apart from against Australia. I know that - it's in the back of my mind," he told Sky Sports. "This is a different Australian team than I've played in the past, but a very fine one as well. But cricket's a stats game, and I've got those stats to put right and to improve on."

Meanwhile, the England and Wales Cricket Board today announced Brit Insurance will become the principle team sponsor of England cricket in a partnership that begins in January 2010.

The contract will last four years with Brit Insurance replacing Vodafone, sponsors since 1997.