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Prior makes his plea to help revive Sussex

Will Matt Prior be back at Sussex? Getty Images

No England wicketkeeper can have expended so much energy in the role as Matt Prior. So said the Daily Telegraph when he called time on his first-class career more than two years ago.

Now Prior's energy levels are hitting maximum again as he comes to the terms with the fact that he can no longer ignore. The vacant head coach's role at Sussex is a job made for him.

If not that precise role then something else where he can bark a few orders, lay down a few ground rules, and sort out a Sussex culture which he is adamant has become slack and unprofessional.

Prior, who was part of a great Sussex era when they won three Championships between 2003 and 2007, told the Brighton Argus on Friday: "I am passionate about Sussex cricket. I've spoken to a number of senior players in the last month or so, a number of coaches and staff. What I'm hearing is frightening.

"Obviously things are not good. I think Sussex have become soft, if I'm honest. I don't want to sound like I'm here as an enemy. I'm here as an ally."

Whether Rob Andrew, Sussex's chief executive, will have the courage to recognise that Prior's challenging persona can be channelled into something positive and long lasting remains to be seen - not many chief executives like the failings of their county to be be openly discussed. Andrew told ESPNcricinfo this week that the decision on a new head coach will not be rushed.

By the time he makes it, Prior's blood pressure could be in need of daily checks. Until then, a thick-set figure will be seen pedalling away his frustrations, uphill into the wind, down Sussex's country lanes.

When Prior retired because of persistent Achilles problems, he turned to cycling for satisfaction, founding One Pro Cycling, Britain's first continental professional cycling team.

But since the removal as head coach of Mark Davis, by mutual consent, last month, so ending a 16-year association with the club, Prior has realised that he would love nothing more than to park his bike inside the cramped and characterful Hove ground where he spent much of his career.

Prior was initially coy about his ambitions, perhaps even conflicted, but he is a passionate man and he has been unable to curb his excitement, especially on Twitter where his recent pronouncements have displayed his love for a county that has lost its way.

Take this, for instance, the day before Davis' sacking:

"Some big changes going on at @SussexCCC - who knows what's gone on behind closed doors. All I do know is the culture needs to be rebuilt!"

Or this, four days later:

"Damage was done long before Mark Davis was put in charge. So frustrating as been saying for a long time things need to change drastically."

And, most recently, this:

"For the number of people asking yes I am very keen to be involved with @SussexCCC & help the club get back to winning ways. I have spoken to a number of senior players & staff & what has been going & how a few individuals have behaved is quite frankly worrying. It needs to change."

That Prior has the experience - if not the coaching certificates - for Sussex's top job is undeniable. He became an increasingly influential figure in the England dressing room in a career that encompassed 79 Tests and 68 ODIs between 2004 and 2014.

Kevin Pietersen resented his senior professional role, and emphasis on the team ethic, deriding him as the Big Cheese in one of the most vicious personal attacks ever seen in a cricket autobiography, but then Pietersen was not the greatest fan of authority.

Prior has seen Yorkshire and Lancashire make internal appointments in the past year, promoting Andrew Gale and Glen Chapple respectively as soon as their playing days were over.

He has also shown in his cycling venture that he has an appetite for a challenge. The development of One Pro Cycling has not been an easy one - funding problems have caused the team to trim back plans to compete in world events, alongside Team Sky, and return to continental level and rosters have also been cut - but the extent of Prior's sporting ambition has been clear. He knows what he wants to achieve and tends to take the direct approach to getting there.

"I've learned about the real world - the world outside cricket," he said.

As a player, too, he has had the opportunity to study the various approaches of Peter Moores, both with Sussex and England, Duncan Fletcher and Andy Flower.

As Moores turned a largely homegrown Sussex side into one of the best-drilled sides in the country, Prior commanded respect as an up-and-coming player for his drive and the enterprising way he played his cricket. The demanding leadership and sense of direction that Moores instilled in the club remains a strong influence on him.

If he returned to Sussex in an influential capacity, he would not be content with a snooze in a deckchair behind the arm and an occasional burst of Sussex by the Sea.