Bell to bat at four

Ian Bell will take up the number four batting slot in this week's third Ashes Test against Australia.

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LONDON // Ian Bell will replace the injured Kevin Pietersen at number four in the England batting order in this week's third Ashes Test against Australia, captain Andrew Strauss said today. Strauss also expects pace bowler Andrew Flintoff to be available after he bowled England to a victory in the second Test at Lord's despite a painful knee. "Ian Bell will come in for Kevin Pietersen batting at four," Strauss told a news conference. "That is the least possible disruption to the other members of the side.

"We're all excited for Belly, he got left out of the team but he's worked very hard to get his place back." Pietersen is out of the rest of the series following surgery on his Achilles tendon. Flintoff, who will retire from Test cricket after the Ashes, took five wickets at Lord's as Australia suffered a 115-run defeat that leaves England 1-0 up in the series. "All the indications are that he'll be fine," Strauss said. "But we'll have to see how he goes in the next couple of days in practice, but at this stage we're very confident and I'm sure he'll be looking to build on his performance at Lord's.

"He's in constant contact with our medical team. When you've had as many injuries as he's had you get an indication of how you're feeling and everything we've heard so far is very positive." Bell has played in 46 Tests for England and played in the Ashes series win in 2005, although he struggled for runs. In his last 12 Test innings, Bell has managed just one 50. * Reuters