Warwickshire spinner Ashley Giles spoke yesterday of his decision to fly back from England's Ashes tour in Australia to be with his wife, who has been diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Cricket is now "unimportant", said the spin bowler, who returned to his family home in Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire, to be with Stine. The Warwickshire left-arm spinner, a hero in last year's Ashes defeat of the Aussies, arrived back in Britain yesterday with two Tests still to play.

He said: "Cricket is unimportant compared to family issues and my wife needs me to be here right now, and she's facing tough times ahead. It's important I'm here to get her through it."

Stine is a Norwegian by birth and the couple have a boy and a girl, Anders and Mathilde.

Giles, who was dropped for the third of the five-Test series, will be replaced in England's squad by Middlesex off-spinner Jamie Dalrymple.

England head coach Duncan Fletcher said: "This is very distressing news for Ashley, and the thoughts of all the players and management are with him and Stine at such a difficult time.

"It is typical of Ashley that he has dealt with this in such a professional manner, and we wish Stine a speedy recovery."

Fletcher paid further tribute to the popular player, saying: "I've been involved with England for seven years and I rate him as probably the most professional cricketer I've dealt with in England.

"For a man like that who's passionate about playing for England, who really wanted to play for England and got upset when he wasn't playing it must be very hard for him."

Giles returned to the England squad just in time for this winter's Ashes series, having spent almost a year on the sidelines because of hip and groin injuries.

Fletcher insisted England's struggles on the third day in Perth on Saturday were not connected to the news. When play resumes on the final day, the tourists face an uphill struggle to save the series, standing five wickets down and more than 290 runs behind.

Commenting on Giles' reason for returning home, Colin Povey, chief executive of Warwickshire County Cricket Club, said: "This is very sad news. The thoughts of all the Warwickshire players and staff are with Ashley and his family. The club have offered Ash and Stine all the help and support they need to get through this difficult time."