ALEC STEWART believes Monty Panesar's performance for the ECB XI in the traditional festival match at Lilac Hill offers England encouragement for the third Ashes Test.
Panesar claimed two for 63 in his 10 overs as the ECB XI, which included all five players from the Ashes squad who did not feature in the opening two Tests, slumped to a seven-wicket defeat to their Australian counterparts.
The Northamptonshire left-arm spinner, who is hoping to force his way into England's thinking for next week's third Test, also took a catch as the Australian line-up sealed victory with 9.5 overs to spare.
But Stewart, who led the side three years after retiring from cricket, believes the work-out will have done Panesar good despite being hit for several sixes.
"He bowled all right," said Stewart, who top-scored for the ECB XI with 69 off as many balls.
"There was a strong wind and if he'd have bowled from the other end some of his deliveries may have held up.
"Talking to him he said he was happy with the way the ball came out. The wicket didn't offer anything for him and he got hit for some big sixes, but after five or six overs he was happy with the way the ball came out of his hand."
Stewart claimed: "A couple of times he did the batters, they mistimed but it still went for six.
"I think Monty will play in Perth because we've got to take 20 wickets and at the minute we haven't looked like taking 20.
"He's not the be-all and end-all but what he's done so far in his brief career has been very good on turning wickets.
"I don't know about his figures on non-bowling wickets but he's a special bowler."
Durham seamer Liam Plunkett was forced off the field shortly before the end after suffering an injury to his right ring finger and was taken to hospital for a precautionary X-ray.
It was the second hospital visit in 24 hours for an England player after captain Andrew Flintoff went for a scan to check on the discomfort he felt during the previous Test on his troublesome left ankle.
The scan confirmed there was no change to Flintoff's condition and he is free to lead the side in the third Test.
Andrew Strauss was captain for England against Western Australia in the match which started today, while the tourists also had recovering captain Michael Vaughan in their line-up.
Coach Duncan Fletcher has already said it's unlikely Vaughan will feature in the Test series and his real target is to be fit and ready for the following one-dayers.