Strauss reluctant to change Panesar

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The Independent Online

England skipper Andrew Strauss has told Monty Panesar to focus on his strengths as he attempts to address his poor form heading into the Ashes.

Panesar has been working with England's new spin-bowling coach Mushtaq Ahmed to add more variety to his game - his major shortcoming according to Shane Warne.

Warne has accused the 27-year-old of failing to improve since making his debut in 2006 but Strauss is concerned that adjustments to his style may prove counter productive.

"Monty has been working on variations but the reality is that he has taken 99% of his wickets bowling a very good left arm spinner that turns and has decent pace on it," he said.

"That's his default and he shouldn't stray too far from it. It's like me trying to bat like Brian Lara - it won't work.

"It's important that he just does what he does well and if he does that he's going to be a handful.

"I've spoken to Monty and he's been in contact with Mushtaq Ahmed. When you go through a bit of a rough patch you question what you are doing.

"I've got a lot of hope that he will come through and be an exceptional talent."

Panesar has the opportunity to impress selectors, who are considering playing two spinners when the series opens in Cardiff on July 8, in next week's practice match against Warwickshire.

Also in action at Edgbaston will be Andrew Flintoff, a central figure in England's Ashes success four years ago.

Flintoff underwent knee surgery two months ago and Strauss expects he will be ready to face Australia.

"Andrew seems very fit and is bowling at a good pace. It's obviously early in his comeback but we've got to assume he'll be fit for the five Test matches," he said.

"It's a massive plus for us if he is. He adds balance to our side and we know the Aussies don't like facing him.

"We're all hopeful that after a long period of bad luck he has the rub of the green for a while and produces a really good Ashes series. It will be fantastic to have him back."