Flintoff and Bell picked for third Test

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The Independent Online

Andrew Flintoff and Ian Bell were in England's 13-man squad, as the selectors sprang no surprises this morning in their line-up to face Australia at Edgbaston in the third npower Test.

The enforced absence of the injured Kevin Pietersen is the only change from the initial squad announced for the second Test at Lord's last week.

Warwickshire batsman Bell will be the like-for-like replacement in the final XI for the injured Pietersen, who has been ruled out of the series after Achilles surgery. As expected, England have chosen not to select any extra batting cover.

Durham fast bowler Stephen Harmison and Northamptonshire spinner Monty Panesar join the other players who featured in England's 115-run win over Australia at Lord's.

England and Wales Cricket Board national selector Geoff Miller explained: "The performance of the team at Lord's was outstanding, and a convincing win was well deserved.

"We have obviously had to make a change to the side following Kevin Pietersen's unavailability - and we wish Kevin the best with his rehabilitation and look forward to his return to the England team in due course."

The continued inclusion of Bell was an obvious reaction to Pietersen's absence for the remainder of the summer, and England have contingency plans for a batting replacement should injury strike any of their top six before the Test. Miller added: "Kevin's injury has presented an opportunity for Ian Bell, who we know is a top-class batsmen with an excellent international record for England.

"Ian will be looking to make the most of his return to the side during an Ashes series - and while we have a strong idea of where he will bat, we won't be disclosing the final line-up of the side until the toss on Thursday.

"Although we haven't named any extra batting cover in the squad, we have several options should the need arise to call in another batsmen."

England are optimistic that Lord's match-winner Flintoff will be able to play, despite the knee injury which is set to end his career after this series.

"Andrew Flintoff's performance at Lord's was truly memorable, and we hope he can take his place in the side for the third npower Test as he continues to manage his knee injury," Miller reported.

"Andrew and the medical staff are quite bullish about his prospects of playing, but we'll continue to monitor his progress in the days leading up to Thursday.

"Steve Harmison and Monty Panesar once again come into the squad, and both players provide us with cover and exciting options within the bowling attack."