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June 13, 2014
Features : England encounter the pleasure and the pain
Mark Nicholas : Moeen, Jordan make bright beginnings
Features : Root double leads run riot
Report : Sri Lanka solid after Root's double-ton
Players/Officials: Matt Prior
Matches: England v Sri Lanka at Lord's
Series/Tournaments: Sri Lanka tour of England and Ireland
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 ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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