NatWest Challenge, 2005 July 4, 2005

Prior included in one-day squad

Cricinfo staff



Matt Prior: rewarded for solid performances in county cricket © Getty Images
Matt Prior has been named in England's 15-man squad for the NatWest Challenge against Australia, which starts at Headingley on Thursday. He replaces Kabir Ali from the NatWest Series squad and will provide Duncan Fletcher with more flexibility when it comes to choosing a substitute as per the new regulations in one-day internationals. Chris Tremlett, who was called up as cover for Simon Jones, retains his place.

Prior made his one-day international debut against Zimbabwe last winter and was a surprising omission from the 25-man development squad named by England at the start of the season. However, consistent form for Sussex - including some explosive innings in Twenty20 - has kept him in the frame.

Prior said that he was delighted to get a recall and his relishing the prospect of facing Australia: "I felt it went well during the winter - I had a little taste of international cricket and I feel I know what to expect, although obviously it's going to be very different against a team like Australia.

"I have been in really good form this year, particularly in the National League and the Twenty20. I think having gone away over the winter both with England and with England A, has definitely helped me. I think I now have the confidence in my method, and the self belief that you need to do well.

"It's going to be different in The NatWest Challenge with the new regulations. But I know how to adapt my game to the situation and I enjoy the challenge of playing under pressure. If I do get an opportunity, I certainly won't be changing my approach or playing any differently."

David Graveney, the chairman of selectors, said: "We were delighted with the team's strong performances during The NatWest Series and have made only one change to the squad for The NatWest Challenge.

"With new playing regulations set to come into effect for The NatWest Challenge, we were conscious of the need to give the captain and coach greater flexibility within the squad. Matt Prior has been chosen as an impact player who is in good form and his inclusion will give Duncan [Fletcher] and Michael [Vaughan] more options for their choice as substitute.

"Matt has been chosen purely as a specialist batsman, although he will obviously provide cover for Geraint Jones in the event of injury. Geraint has been in excellent form with both the bat and the gloves and the innings he produced under great pressure on Saturday was an outstanding effort."

Graveney had words of comfort for Ali, who did not feature in any of the NatWest Series matches, despite his promising performances during the one-day internationals in South Africa. "His opportunities have been limited because the role of first change bowler which he took on in the winter in South Africa is now being filled by Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff. I have explained this to Kabir and reassured him that he remains in our thoughts for the future."

Squad Michael Vaughan (capt), Paul Collingwood, Andrew Flintoff, Ashley Giles, Darren Gough, Steve Harmison, Geraint Jones (wk), Simon Jones, Jon Lewis, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Vikram Solanki, Andrew Strauss, Chris Tremlett, Marcus Trescothick

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