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Panesar cut from England squad

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Monty Panesar & James Anderson

Monty Panesar was an unlikely hero, alongside James Anderson, as England saved the first npower Test at Cardiff

England have released spinner Monty Panesar from their squad for the third npower Ashes Test at Edgbaston, which begins tomorrow.

The slow left-armer has been allowed to rejoin his county Northamptonshire in time for the Twenty20 Cup quarter-final against Hampshire at Wantage Road tonight.

Panesar was an unlikely hero with England with the bat in helping to save the first Test at Cardiff three weeks ago.

But with Graeme Swann established as the frontline spinner, Panesar did not feature in the side which triumphed at Lord's.

England skipper Andrew Strauss confirmed: “The only information we can give you is that Monty Panesar will be joining up with Northants this evening. He won't be part of the (England) squad.”

Strauss is optimistic that all-rounder Andrew Flintoff will be sufficiently fit despite his current knee problems.

Flintoff, 31, played a major role with the ball in helping England to win at Lord's and is expected to feature in Birmingham.

Strauss said: “Freddie seems fine. He has come through all the workouts okay. Barring any dramatic stuff overnight, we are confident he will be fit.”

Strauss believes that England will have to improve on their performance in the last Test if they are to keep in front of Australia.

He said: “We are very happy with the way things have gone for the last two days and we take a lot of confidence from Lord's.

“But I believe this Test will be the hardest of all, a huge Test, and whoever does well will take momentum into the second half of the series.

“If we can go 2-0 up, we will be in a great position but we've got to raise the level of our performance from Lord's. We expect the Australians to come back strong and motivated.

“We need to raise things to another level and, if we do that, we will put them under pressure again.”

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