Monty Panesar, the England left-arm spinner, has joined South African domestic side Highveld Lions as their overseas player this season.

Panesar was dropped from the England Test team after the first Ashes Test at Cardiff, despite his match-saving effort with the bat on a tense final evening, and has now lost his central contract. His spot as England's No.1 spinner has gone to Graeme Swann and in 13 County Championship matches this season Panesar took just 18 wickets at an expensive 59.44.

"Having practised with [head coach] Dave Nosworthy and the Lions players last January for 10 days prior to going to West Indies with England, I know what superb facilities and friendly people await me in Johannesburg," Panesar said. "[Chief executive] Alan Kourie was very helpful to me on my last trip, and I look forward to picking his and other people's brains further as I seek to develop my bowling and all-round game in the challenging environment of South African cricket."

England are yet to announce their touring party for the winter tour of South Africa, but Panesar's name is not expected to feature with Adil Rashid set to travel as the second spinner. However, Panesar will be in the right place should injuries strike the main squad.

Two years ago the Lions had Steve Harmison in their ranks as he tried to prove his form and fitness before the tour 2007-08 tour of Sri Lanka.