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Page last updated at 17:42 GMT, Sunday, 28 June 2009 18:42 UK

England pay respects in Flanders

England cricketers Ravi Bopara (L) Andrew Strauss (C) and Alastair Cook prepare to lay wreaths at The Menin Gate in Ypres
Ravi Bopara, Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook lay wreaths at Ypres

England's Ashes squad have paid a two-day visit to Flanders Field in Belgium during which they visited war graves and attended a memorial service.

The players and management took time out from their preparations for the summer series to commemorate servicemen who lost their lives in World War I.

A stone cricket ball was laid at the grave of England and Kent bowler Colin Blythe, who died at Passchendaele.

"It was a deeply moving and humbling experience," said Andrew Strauss.

The skipper added: "It's important to take a step back from cricket at times.

"We learned a great deal about the sacrifices made by a previous generation of England cricketers, and I would like to thank the people of Ieper for making us so welcome."

Australia's cricketers paid a similar visit to France ahead of the 2005 Ashes series.

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