The Ashes 2013-14 October 26, 2013

Prior 'underestimated' vice-captaincy


Matt Prior, the England wicketkeeper, has conceded that his role as Test vice-captain may have played a part in a lean Ashes series with the bat after he "underestimated" the demands of the job but it has not doused his enthusiasm to be Alastair Cook's lieutenant.

Prior was officially elevated to the position for England's series in New Zealand earlier this year having taken on the role during the tour of India when Stuart Broad was injured. Initially, Prior's form remained as stellar as ever - including a monumental match-saving hundred in Auckland - but the runs dried up during the home season after he began with a pair against New Zealand at Lord's just days after being named England's Player of the Year.

His average of 19 was his lowest in a series of four or more matches and the fourth lowest of his career. Prior termed the feeling of not contributing significantly with the bat as "horrendous" but now believes he has a better grasp of how he must balance the multiple demands of batsman, wicketkeeper and vice-captain.

"First and foremost I am absolutely loving the role but I have to change a few things to make sure I still get the best out of myself as a player as well," he said. "I underestimated what it meant. I thought I would just carry on doing what I was doing and it would just say VC next to my name on the team sheet."

"I have realised that there is a time for team duties, a time when you have to make sure you get enough time and enough work as an individual, switching on to what you are doing. The last series was horrendous and I want to improve on that."

Prior's senior position means he is part of the leadership team within England's Test side alongside Cook and team director Andy Flower. However, England have begun their Ashes tour with continued speculation over the future of Flower after suggestions emerged during the latter part of the home season that this contest against Australia could be his last in the job.

Before leaving the UK, Cook said he had no reason to believe Flower would depart after the Sydney Test and that the post-season break had given him a chance to refresh after a challenging season.

After The Oval Test in August, Flower would not look further ahead than this return series but it has never been his style to throw too far ahead into future, at least in public. Prior said the team would do everything they could to ensure he is around for considerable time yet although admits he is a hard man to shift.

"Firstly I would be really sad if Andy packed up," Prior said. "He has been hugely pivotal in this team; look at when he took over in 2009 with what happened with Mooresy [Peter Moores] and KP. We certainly would try to persuade him [to stay] but anyone who knows him well enough will realise that once he's made his mind up on something he's not being persuaded.

"Who knows what he is going to do? I hope he stays on but the important thing is we know we have got him for this Ashes series. That's all we have to worry about."

Prior is now focused on being part of securing a piece of history for this generation of England cricketers with a fourth straight Ashes series win which they have not achieved since the 1890s.

"It's a huge carrot," he said. "This team has really responded well to being a part of history, not just scoring runs and winning matches. I remember in 2009 we were having a meeting at Lord's and said it was 75 years since we beat Australia here - we have to change that. Let's change that. We did it. There was India away which was 28 years, or the Ashes first which was 25 years.

"Those stats really get us going and the team enjoys those challenges and making that bit of history. This four in a row would be the biggest thing in my career and I imagine also for the other boys."

Investec, the specialist bank and asset manager, is the title sponsor of Test Cricket in England. Visit or follow us @InvestecCricket

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on October 28, 2013, 9:20 GMT

    @Buggsy: Yes Clarke's recent record of test victories is so impressive compared to Cook's....

  • Nicholas on October 28, 2013, 9:13 GMT

    When England's bowling went awry (e.g. against tail-enders in a few games, when it constantly looked liked England just expected wickets to be a formality instead of actually working for them and earning them well) - I did notice during the last Ashes series that Prior had very little input on the matter. Yes I was restricted to watching highlights, but not once did I see Prior going over to consult with Cook and/or the bowlers, and more often than not it was KP for some reason that ran over to council the bowlers. I just feel that not only as VC, but as wicket-keeper as well, Prior should be one of the first players to be shouting "Christ, pitch it up Broad!" or "Swann, here's the footmark here!" - instead of standing motionless with his face covered with a glove...

  • John on October 28, 2013, 8:52 GMT

    It's a strange coincidnce that shortly after a glowing piece written on here that 2 of our players Cook (after the Bradman comparison) and Prior have lost their form. I'm wondering if some of the characters who post on here (no names mentioned but we all know who they are) could in future do threads on England players as we know we won't get anything positive about England players and it may have the reverse effect?

  • John on October 28, 2013, 8:51 GMT

    @dunger.bob on (October 27, 2013, 6:06 GMT) I think he brings more to the team than just his playing skills. I'd say he's a vital part of our dressing room and seemed to be instrumental in getting KP back into the set up.

  • Dummy4 on October 28, 2013, 8:17 GMT

    Listen to the majority of the "experts" on hete( most of whom I suspect have never picked up a bat in anger) you would think England have a poor Test record recently and not just thrashed the Aussies.

  • Dummy4 on October 28, 2013, 5:21 GMT

    what about he got overconfident and overestimated his own abilities.. for me that seemed like the reason whole series

  • Graham on October 27, 2013, 22:32 GMT

    I think its a bit poor blaming the pressures of Vice captain for a poor series, the Australians had great plans for him. He is a class player and I'm sure he will work on the areas that Australia got him and it will be starting from scratch again in the next series. Vice captain is not that tough a job, surely less demanding than wicket keeping itself.

  • Dummy4 on October 27, 2013, 19:04 GMT

    he is best wicket keeper batsman after ab devillers and sanga in test matches

  • Michael on October 27, 2013, 13:57 GMT

    When Prior was elevated to the vice captaincy it was because he displayed obvious leadership qualities and selflessness in his approach to the game.It may be though that these are not precisely the qualities required to be vc so that he has had to learn a few things along the way which have less to do with flair and more to do with organisation. The obvious truth too is that he is always in the best position in the field to be in the know and he is always involved. I may not actually be necessary for him to be vc to contribute. But he seems to get along with the other players so his input is respected. Most people have a threshold which if crossed leads to being overburdened. It is a difficult question. Re his batting-is he likely to fail in 2 consecutive series? He is not impressed by the last series' batting, so I think he will scoring heavily again.

  • John on October 27, 2013, 13:00 GMT

    @jackiethepen: I'm not sure which games you were watching. In the games I saw, Cook was standing right next to Prior at first slip for most of the time and talked with him constantly.

    Cook's record as captain is W 9, D 6, L 1. If that's poor captaincy I will be watching with interest to see how well England does when he masters the art.

    @JGreaves & dunger.bob: lol- yes, that wasn't my most successful metaphor, was it?