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Strauss retains captaincy for rest of Pakistan series

Written by: Staff
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LONDON, July 23 (Reuters) Andrew Strauss will remain captain for the remainder of England's test series against Pakistan as Andrew Flintoff prepares to undergo ankle surgery this week.

But England's chairman of selectors David Graveney said today he was confident all-rounder Flintoff would be fit for the Ashes starting in November.

''It is going to be a tight call,'' Graveney told BBC radio.

''I am pretty confident that we can get him ready to go to Australia.

''Let's be upbeat,'' Graveney continued. ''I am confident that he will be ready for the first test.'' Graveney said medical staff from England and Flintoff's club Lancashire had worked ''day and night'' to try to heal the player's left ankle without recourse to surgery but a specialist had decided on Saturday an operation was necessary.

''Given the news regarding Freddie (Flintoff), it only makes common sense to invite Andrew (Strauss) to continue as captain to the end of the (Pakistan) test series,'' Graveney said.

Selectors had named a 14-man squad for the second test against Pakistan at Old Trafford, which starts on Thursday, as Liam Plunkett had picked up a knock, he added.

''Liam Plunkett injured his side playing for Durham against West Indies A and his fitness will need to be reassessed over the next 48 hours.'' OPTIONS The inclusion of Middlesex all rounder Jamie Dalrymple would give the team more options, Graveney said.

Flintoff, who took over the captaincy from the injured Michael Vaughan in India this year, missed the first test against Pakistan which ended in a draw at Lord's last Monday and is expected to be out of action for 12 weeks after his operation.

If fit, he would be expected to lead the team in the Ashes series, which starts in Brisbane on November 23.

Strauss said Flintoff's absence from the four-test series against Pakistan was ''a bitter pill to swallow''.

''The difficulty in losing a genuine all-rounder from the team is that it affects the balance of the side,'' Strauss said in the Sunday Telegraph.

''He does the job of two players but can only be replaced by one.'' England squad: Andrew Strauss (captain), Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood, Alastair Cook, Jamie Dalrymple, Stephen Harmison, Matthew Hoggard, Geraint Jones, Jon Lewis, Sajid Mahmood, Kevin Pietersen, Liam Plunkett, Monty Panesar, Marcus Trescothick.

REUTERS DH PC1535

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