WA Chairman's XI v England XI, Perth, 3rd day November 2, 2013

Everything 'fantastic' for Prior


Matt Prior might have been standing in for the first time as an England captain, but he proved in Perth that he has already mastered the art of positive thinking. After England's uncomfortable start to the Ashes tour against a Western Australia scratch side, he dubbed pretty much everything as "fantastic".

"The batters batted fantastically," Prior said, a conclusion drawn from the hundreds compiled by Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott, rather than a final-day collapse against the second new ball which saw England lose seven wickets for 61 with Prior himself, Gary Ballance and Ben Stokes all falling cheaply in their first knock of the Ashes tour.

Neither did Prior accept the general conclusion in the media that none of England's trio of fast bowlers had made much of a case for inclusion in the first Test in Brisbane. They had taken a mauling on the first day, but Prior preferred to reflect upon a steadier performance against the WA Chairman's XI second time around. "Today the big guys I thought were fantastic," he said.

Boyd Rankin, in particular, was presented by Prior as "fantastic all day". Prior was so determined to maintain England's spirits and sing the tune of Captain Fantastic that it would have been no surprise to discover that the Brown Dirt Cowboy was writing the lyrics.

"I think the fast bowlers improved through the three days and got through that bit of rustiness," he said. "Steven Finn bowled a long spell there, and certainly the last four or five overs he was really hitting his straps again, hitting a great area, and his pace was up.

"Boyd Rankin I thought was fantastic all day. A bloke with such height and good pace and bounce on these wickets could be a pretty useful weapon. Tremlett got better and better and got more rhythm as the game went on."

A three-day affair on a sluggish surface against what, by and large, was a WA 2nd XI might be regarded as possessing only limited value. Not so. "I think we got a huge amount from the game," he said. "I'm very happy sat here after the last three days. In all departments, we gradually got better throughout the game.

"From a fielding and bowling point of view, the first day obviously wasn't great. But there are reasons for that - a bit of rustiness - and that's why we're here four weeks early: to make sure we have the games and to clear the cobwebs before the first Test match."

Prior had a lean Ashes series with the bat and is anxious to remedy that before Brisbane. But anxiety was not allowed to permeate his air of bullish confidence. "If I scored runs in the nets I reckon I would probably have 100 hundreds at the moment," he said. "I've been hitting it brilliantly, moving well, feeling really good. If I went 0, 0, 0, 0 in all these warm up matches but got a hundred in the first Test, I'd bite your arm off."

His PR exercise achieved, he knew it was time for him to step down from his temporary leadership role, with Alastair Cook fit again to resume command against Australia A in Hobart next week. The handover of the baton passed without mishap. "It's been good fun to be in charge and have a little bit of power," he said. "I really enjoyed it, but back to Cooky."

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Bryn on November 4, 2013, 4:58 GMT

    this sort of delusion is extreme even for England. I cant believe Australia have lost to this rabble in recent times. needless to say those days are over

  • John on November 3, 2013, 23:02 GMT

    I'm really not surprised that the big lads didn't bowl well. It takes a while for them to find the right length and get their rhythm right. It only takes one of them to start bowling well and with Anderson, Broad and Swann the bowling is fine.

    Trott and Bell made runs and Root spent time in the middle and was part of a century opening stand. It would be nice to see Cook and Pietersen get some solid time in the middle before the first test.

    That leaves the #6 position; Ballance and Stokes didn't help themselves and I hope YJB will get a chance against Australia A.

    More of a worry is Prior himself. He needs to get himself going before the first test. He looked out of sorts throughout the English Summer and he is needed badly in Aus.

    Warm-up games mean nothing, but it's only useful practice if batsmen spend time in the middle and bowlers get enough overs to find their rhythm and the right length. If that happens over the next two games- fantastic!

  • ian on November 3, 2013, 12:59 GMT

    Sometimes I wish some cricketers would either think before they speak or not say anything at all. Now, Matt Prior is the ultimate team man and an able v/c, but he is not, repeat not, captaincy material. The idea that there was anything to get excited about from the performances of the England giants is absurd. He should have said something on the lines of: it was a early-tour performance and should be taken as a baseline from which progress can be expected. Something like that. But to take the discerning cricket followers in both countries as being incapable of reaching their own conclusions from media reports is to take us for unintelligent mugs.

  • John on November 3, 2013, 12:58 GMT

    @Phil Johns on (November 2, 2013, 21:34 GMT), I'm quite sure that they are far more honest with themselves away from the cameras and microphones but it's quite true that listening to or reading what sportsmen say to the media is all but pointless. Very few say anything worthwhile.

  • Hamish on November 3, 2013, 9:00 GMT

    Oh and Prior, I do hope you're joking. WA (worst state team) and their second XI and they outplayed you... But sure, it is all fantastic. And I wonder why complacency is a term that gets brandied around so much in the Eng camp/media!

  • GeoffreysMother on November 3, 2013, 8:48 GMT

    Some fantastic comments from the Aussie posters who are clearly hitting their straps: but have they peaked too early?

  • Bob on November 3, 2013, 7:43 GMT

    Prior has gone way down in my opinion.. His comments here reflect very much the sort of pompous comments that are trotted under his name in The Telegraph. It's time he started performing. It seems to me that he is now one of the England elite clique and no matter how badly he's done, it'll have to get very much worse for Flower & Co to drop him. That must be true because, when you look at the way they treated Compton, cast aside after a couple of failures, they've stuck with Prior even after his dire performances last season, at both test and county level. And let's face it. it's not as if England don't have any other keeper/batsmen who could do a better job..

  • rob on November 3, 2013, 3:45 GMT

    What I'd like to see is Matty knock up a refined 90 odd in his next warm up then fail miserably in each and every Test.

    We need at least one chink to start working away at. It looks as though Bell will simply continue along on his merry way and Trott looks better already. If Cook, KP and Root show some good form, we're in a lot of trouble because of all those bloody bowling injuries. I figure that at some point there will be an another injury, maybe someone will get belted out of the attack (Mitch) or for whatever reason we will have to dig into our backup reserve reserve bowlers. .. If too many of the Poms are hitting form with the bat, it could get really ugly.

  • Ian on November 3, 2013, 3:00 GMT

    Love ya to bits Matty, but seriously? If you thought that was fantastic, I'd hate to see average!

  • Dummy4 on November 2, 2013, 21:34 GMT

    Another positive that can be taken, is no one died while playing the game! I'm so over the half glass full mentality of modern day sportsmen. It would be nice every so often if they were honest with themselves and the public, and admit they didn't play well.

  • No featured comments at the moment.