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September 1, 2008
England players who have been involved in all forms of cricket during the season will be given an extended break after the one-day series against South Africa, and won't be available for their counties for the rest of the summer. Andrew Flintoff, despite only returning to international cricket in the middle of July, is also unavailable as England coach Peter Moores looks ahead to a packed calendar from the end of October.
Durham will be relieved that Steve Harmison has been made available as they chase their first Championship title, but will have to do without Paul Collingwood. Nottinghamshire's challenge is boosted with Graeme Swann and Samit Patel returning from international duty, but Ryan Sidebottom has been ruled out for the rest of the season with his injury problems. Sussex, too, will be strengthened with the availability of Matt Prior and Luke Wright.
The postponement of the Champions Trophy has provided an unexpected chance for some players to return to their counties. However, Moores said it was important for those with a heavy workload to take advantage of the rare opportunity of an extended rest ahead of the Stanford Super Series and India tour.
"It has been a gruelling summer schedule and it's important for those players involved in both the Test and ODI squads to be rested ahead of what promises to be a hectic winter," Moores said. "It is important the players use that interval to refresh themselves mentally and physically ahead of a schedule that has little respite over the next 12 months."
Alastair Cook is available for two one-day matches for Essex - a Pro40 against Warwickshire and a floodlit challenge game - but won't have any Championship action. This is despite him only playing two days of cricket since the final Test against South Africa finished on August 11.
"Alastair has not featured in the current series and after working hard on his one-day game during recent weeks he is available Essex," explained Moores.
For those players with no more cricket this season, after Cardiff on Wednesday, there is now an eight-week break before the week of matches in Antigua for the Stanford Super Series. After a week in the Caribbean, England begin their seven-match one-day series in India on November 14 before two Tests before Christmas. The first Test in West Indies begins on February 4 in Jamaica and the final ODI is on April 3.
England's next home season includes a two-Test series against Sri Lanka before the ICC World Twenty20 and the Ashes series. That is followed by seven ODIs against Australia, then there is the chance of a rescheduled Champions Trophy.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala