Flintoff is ready insists Strauss

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The Independent Online

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

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

But Strauss is encouraged by the Lancashire 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," he said.

"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.

"When you've had as many injuries as him you get a good indication of how you're feeling. Everything we've heard so far has been positive."

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," said Strauss.

"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."

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.