Friday, 11 April 2014

One loss of form should not end Matt Prior's England career

During the fallout from England's disastrous tour of Australia, there were many opinions expressed about the futures of England's touring party. Some were measured and accurate while others were wild and over the top. Wild and over the top tend to be the way most people go when a team self destructs in the way that England did. However it tends not to be the way to go when trying to re-build a team. Although all of the touring party were scrutinised, one player who seemed in most pundits line of sight was Matt Prior.

In truth, the 32 year old had had a poor few months, suffering from a complete lack of form since his series saving hundred against New Zealand at Auckland. It appeared that Australia in particular had worked out how to bowl at him and after being dropped from the England side before the 4th Ashes test at Melbourne, many pundits were writing Prior's cricketing epitaph. Apparently he was too old, time to move onto younger men.

Blooding young players is all well and good but there is no point blooding them if they aren't ready. There is also no point putting them in the team if there are still world class players waiting in the wings. Prior is an excellent example of a world-class player who can still offer England a lot over the next few years.

All players lose form and that was certainly the case for Prior. Whatever he tried just didn't seem to work. However his poor form over 8 months should be put into context by 5 years of excellent form. Since regaining his place back in the England side in 2008, Prior hardly had a bad match with gloves or bat. It seemed like he was never out of form, until last summer.

Losses in form happen to every sportsman so it was bound to happen to Prior eventually. That doesn't mean he isn't a world class player anymore. It just means he needs to regain his form and by the looks of it he has done just that by scoring the first hundred of the county season in Sussex's match against Middlesex. Batting at 4, Prior came in with a positive intent, taking the bowlers on and giving his side momentum. Just like he usually does for England.

Jos Buttler
Many were suggesting that Prior should lose his spot in England's Test side because there seemed to be a ready made replacement in Jos Buttler. Those Buttler fans have quietened down a bit since the keepers disappointing showing at the World T20. That world tournament has shown that Buttler still needs to improve his keeping (especially when standing up to slower bowlers) in order to become a Test quality keeper-batsman. That should happen with a couple of seasons keeping at Lancashire. The 22 year old should be given time to hone his skills and become a better player, not be shoe-horned into a side when he isn't ready.
Buttler will one-day be good enough to break into England's Test side however, Prior is currently the better option both as a wicket-keeper and a batsman.