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Page last updated at 16:22 GMT, Monday, 5 October 2009 17:22 UK

Panesar joins S Africa franchise

Monty Panesar prepares to bowl during an England net session
Panesar sat out most of the English Ashes summer

Spinner Monty Panesar has signed a deal to play for South African franchise the Highveld Lions over the winter.

The 27-year-old, who has taken 126 wickets in 39 Tests, wants to reignite his international career after England did not renew his central contract.

The left-arm bowler fell behind fellow spinners Graeme Swann and Adil Rashid in the pecking order over the summer.

Panesar will play for the Lions in the South African SuperSport Series, the equivalent of the County Championship.

"To play first-class cricket for such a prestigious team is a privileged opportunity, and one I am relishing," said Panesar.

"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.

"(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."

Panesar has a point to prove to the England selectors after he was dropped following the first Ashes Test of the summer against Australia, despite his batting heroics when he helped to secure a draw at Cardiff.

BBC Sport's Peter Scrivener

He has not played for the national side since, and even found himself out of the Northants side for their crucial final Championship match of the season.

England will be touring South Africa later this year and an impressive spell at the Lions in first-class cricket could conceivably boost hopes of a recall.

Two years ago Andrew Strauss was dropped for the 2007 tour to Sri Lanka and went to play for New Zealand team Northern District Knights.

His form returned and he found himself back in England's side for the tour of New Zealand in early 2008.

The Lions have been searching for a slow bowler since Claude Henderson departed two years ago.

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see also
Harmison & Panesar lose contracts
11 Sep 09 |  England
Panesar ready for England call-up
11 Aug 09 |  Northants
Warne backs Rashid over Panesar
25 Jun 09 |  England
England changes 'put off Panesar'
09 Apr 09 |  England
Strauss 'fresh' for England duty
13 Jan 08 |  England

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