Prior still hopeful of returning from injury
Matt Prior has admitted that it was a "tough week" after not being involved in a Lord's Test for the first time since 2008 but said England's memorable win had helped ease the pain. Prior is continuing to rehabilitate from an Achilles injury and still hopes to play again. He underwent surgery last year and his last appearance remains the previous Lord's Test, which ended in defeat to India.
Prior's place as wicketkeeper has since been taken by Jos Buttler and he pulled off a couple of brilliant catches - as well as conceding 31 byes - as England beat New Zealand by 124 runs on the final day. Buttler, playing just his seventh Test, was the first other than Prior to keep at Lord's since Tim Ambrose in 2008.
"I hadn't missed a Lord's Test match for six years," Prior said. "The minute I saw Lord's, you know the first Test of the summer is always a really big occasion for any English cricketer, so it was a tough week to watch but made a lot better by England's performance and obviously the win."
Prior was hoping to play for Sussex this season and possibly restate his case for England but remains some way from a return. "It's still a slow progress unfortunately, it was obviously a very big injury and a big operation and it's quite frustrating, I'm sort of taking two steps forward and four back," he said. "But I haven't given up hope that I'll one day be back on a cricket pitch, I love the game and I want to be back out in the middle again."
Prior certainly knows about the difficulties of keeping wicket at Lord's, where the ball tends to dip and swerve after passing the wicket. He only had praise for Buttler, whose leg-side takes to dismiss Ross Taylor and Corey Anderson in New Zealand's first innings were further proof that he is adapting well to Test cricket.
"I thought Jos had a fantastic game," Prior said. "Keeping wicket at Lords can be a nightmare, it can make you look and feel ridiculous, with the ball wobbling around - no one knows why it does it but it does, believe me, and you can feel daft. The other thing is that it can ruin your rhythm, it ruins your rhythm, it ruins your confidence but suddenly the half chance comes and you've got to be on it to take that chance.
"The thing that stood out for me with those two catches, they were two fantastic catches and if he was just a little bit off it he wouldn't have been able to take those chances so it shows that mentally he's in a really good place with his game and with himself and I think that stands the team in really good stead."
As he works on his fitness, Prior has also been involved with setting up a professional cycling team and has watched on from afar as England replaced their management team after little more than a year, bringing in Prior's former captain, Andrew Strauss, as director of cricket and Australian Trevor Bayliss as head coach. Prior thinks that the appointment of Bayliss could turn out to be a masterstroke ahead of the Ashes.
"I think firstly a lot of people will be relieved an appointment has been made," he said. "You know all the time it's up in the air no one knows where they're at and again, from the players' point of view, they'll be pleased that a decision's been made sooner rather than later, especially with the Ashes coming up very quickly. We'll have an Aussie in the ranks, which I think is actually quite a good idea. I think it's going to work brilliantly - why wouldn't you want an insight into Aussie mentality and how they might play their game? He's a wealth of experience as well so I think it could work really well."
Chance to Shine ambassador Matt Prior was speaking at the launch of Yorkshire Tea National Cricket Week. Schools can still sign up for the week at www.chancetoshine.org/ncw_signups