England v Sri Lanka, 1st Investec Test, Lord's, 2nd day June 13, 2014

Prior grateful for lucky break

Matt Prior had his heart in his mouth when Sri Lanka reviewed a second-ball lbw appeal against him on the first afternoon at Lord's. It came down to a matter of inches, with his back leg a fraction outside the line. Prior survived, vowed to make the most it, and the end result was a bustling 86 in his first innings back after being dropped and having to battle an Achilles injury that he feared may not prove beatable.

Much of Prior's scoring was done on the opening day, as he rattled to 72, and he could only add 14 more on Friday before being bounced out by Shaminda Eranga from around the wicket, sparring a catch to short leg which revived images of the winter barrage by Mitchell Johnson. Prior kicked the ground in disgust, for both the manner of his dismissal and for missing the chance of another Lord's hundred - a century here would also have put him level with Les Ames as the most by an England wicketkeeper.

Then in the field he was back in the firing line behind the stumps. Balls were scuttling through on a slow surface, he was able to grab an edge off Chris Jordan but another, from the bat of Kaushal Silva off Stuart Broad, was ruled to have not carried by the third umpire.

"I felt it carried, in your keeping gloves you have rubber tips and I felt the ball hit the rubber tip and there's no doubt in my mind that it did carry but, unfortunately, this day and age it goes upstairs. We are disappointed the decision didn't stand but we move on."

But back to that lbw shout against Herath. "It was a whole range of emotions," Prior said. "You're just watching the screen, and it's like 'that looks dead'. I'm thinking 'right, that's nought off two balls - see you later, Matt'.

"Then, when the umpire's call came up, I almost looked at Rooty and said: 'Right, it's changed. I'm back. Here we go.' I decided to attack again, and hit that one over the top. That was me off and running, and I felt comfortable from then on in. Ultimately you need a bit of luck as well, I don't feel I had much over the last year and that second-ball decision going my way was maybe the thing that turns it around again."

It had been clear from shortly after Prior was dropped that the England hierarchy were eager to get him straight back into the side after he had had time to reflect on what caused his problems of the previous 12 months. Jos Buttler's one-day form - notably his breathtaking 121 off 74 balls at Lord's - created strong support for his promotion, although that came more from fans that selectors and management.

"Nah," Prior said with a smile when asked if he had felt any doubt after Buttler's hundred, before adding: "Of course, whenever you are out of the team you are watching other performances and that was phenomenal, absolutely, but in sport you can have very short memories as well. I've had a rough year but the three or four years before that I'd played some pretty good cricket and I know what I bring to the team.

"When people put faith in you, you do feel a certain pressure to back them up," he added. "I certainly want to do that. But there was a reason why they did put faith in me."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • David on June 14, 2014, 17:34 GMT

    "England hierarchy were eager to get (Prior) straight back into the side after he had had time to reflect on what caused his problems of the previous 12 months."

    Before his annus horribilis, Prior's batting was vital to Eng. At home vs SA & away vs India & NZ he scored 844 @ ave 60.28. A 51.6 ave in India says much: that it was 2nd only Cook (excl. Root's 1 match,) defines his value. In NZ he towered, scoring Eng's most runs @ ave 103.66. His rearguard inns saved match & series.

    May 13, 2013, Matt's career peaked when fêted in Lords' Long Room & adjudged by Eng's cricket media as Cricketer of the Year - the 1st keeper to win the award!

    3 days later against NZ at Lords he bagged a pair, & in his next 9 matches averaged 17.68. After 13 December he was dropped.

    Year 2013 … May 13 ... December 13. Did unlucky 13 get Matt? No, his NZ heroics were in March 2013.

    Or, was it was that award? Bell now has the award, & suddenly Matt is back! Hmm... Keepers, beware the media bearing gifts!

  • RAJ on June 14, 2014, 14:42 GMT

    Can somebody look at Matt Prior and Mahela's LBW decisions .I see both identical but Mahela was given out. DRS shows ball pitching out side of the off stump on both occasions but hitting the wicket. Does all these depend at the 3rd umpire who decides on his merit or a set of rules set.I think if the DRS shows the ball hitting the wicket,the batsman needs to be given out.

  • rob on June 14, 2014, 8:47 GMT

    Sometimes a batsman out of form just needs a bit of luck to get things going again. To be fair to Prior he did make another 80 runs after getting his slice of the luck pie. He didn't totally cash in but he's not in the team totally as a batsman either. .. I'm willing to give Prior the benefit of the doubt for the moment at least.

  • Android on June 14, 2014, 5:30 GMT

    @Chris Silva Lords had a day where sun was out so it was good for batting. It has been like that for as long as I remember. Instead, you had a green pitch to work on after you won the toss. You could've had them earlier. You didn't. So there's nothing like backfire here.

  • Cameron on June 14, 2014, 5:26 GMT

    He won't make the summer, even the Sri Lankan medium pacers can bounce him out. Another duck would have matched his form of the last 18 months. Another top order failure, lacklustre bowling and fielding, I mean they were letting catches through the slips cordon with no attempt at catching them. Cook fails again. Moores has really turned things around hasn't he.....

  • Dummy4 on June 14, 2014, 4:55 GMT

    I wish we could see balanced wickets prepared internationally for cricket matches. Preparing belters would only make the games so boring.

  • Dummy4 on June 13, 2014, 22:53 GMT

    Matt Prior is a very lucky man to escape been given out. That is how the game goes at times. All what we saw yesterday was runs runs runs for England. SL have begun the run chase just the same way. All what you will see tomorrow will be runs runs runs for SL. The curators should prepare the best pitch they can and not try to prepare one to suite the home team. It can back fire more time s than none.

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