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After two of the most mentally and physically draining Test matches in history, England's cricketers have been given a timely break from their county duties, and will be rested from this week's Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy semi-finals, after a request from their coach, Duncan Fletcher.
Michael Vaughan and Matthew Hoggard had been due to appear for Yorkshire against Kevin Pietersen's Hampshire at The Rose Bowl, while Warwickshire, whose players include Ashley Giles and Ian Bell, take on Lancashire and Andrew Flintoff at Edgbaston. But with the scent of Ashes glory wafting in the air after a heady fortnight of Test action, the counties have agreed that rest and recuperation is in the national interest. None of the XI who played at Old Trafford will play between now and the fourth Test at Trent Bridge.
"The England team has been involved in two of the hardest-fought Test matches I can recall and there are some players who have injury niggles which require rest before the fourth npower Ashes Test match," said Fletcher. "I am particularly grateful to the counties and the sponsors, Cheltenham & Gloucester, for the support they have given.
"I recognise that the C&G Trophy is reaching the critical semi-final stage and it is a competition which adds great value to the preparation of our international one-day players but following the mentally and physically draining back-to-back Test matches there is a need for players to have a break."
Lisa Gilbert, a spokeswoman for Cheltenham & Gloucester, added: "We have just witnessed two of the most absorbing Test matches in history. The success of the England team has seen unprecedented public and media support. We are proud of the achievements of the England team and we, at Cheltenham & Gloucester, wish to provide maximum support possible to the team in their efforts to bring the Ashes back home."
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