The Ashes 2013-14 December 1, 2013

Prior searches for an end to slump

Cricketers often face demoralising periods of failure which they are resilient enough to survive. Matt Prior needs to arrest a prolonged batting decline to lift England's Ashes challenge
37

This England side relishes adversity. In fact, considering their habitually poor starts to a series, they don't just relish it, they are inured to it. And this time the adversity comes with emotional hurt attached. After the traumatic defeat in Brisbane, one of their number is missing. The imperative in Adelaide will be to give Jonathan Trott some good news to sustain him through difficult times.

Kevin Pietersen has become the image of England's "tight unit". He has slapped on the shades and the earphones and waved aside attention, especially attention from anybody resembling an Australian journalist. As he stares meaningfully into the mid-distance, one likes to imagine he is listening to something suitably reverberating. It would be a surprise to learn he is mentally crooning along to Robbie Williams.

Alice Springs, Graeme Swann and Gary Ballance apart, seemed to bring as much benefit to those who did not play as those who did. There is nowhere better than the Northern Territory, the land beyond the black stump, to hole up for a while, stare down the critics, and concentrate on the task that lies ahead.

That Alastair Cook now faces the sternest test of his captaincy should not be up for debate. The suspicion that this England side might be past its peak is stronger now than when they went 1-0 down to India in Ahmedabad a year ago but recovered to take the series. Cook's leadership is underpinned by many good qualities: personal weight of runs, conventional captaincy based on proven statistical data, and the authority arising from his understated toughness and essential fair-mindedness. But now he needs to drag a response from England that will tend to the more remarkable.

It is as such times when a captain looks to his second in command - but when Cook does he discovers one of England's most pressing problems. Matt Prior is England's Player of the Year but has had such a thin time of late that those achievements seem a world away. When he received that award at a function in London - a debatable choice ahead of James Anderson and Cook himself - his acceptance speech was strangely uncertain, as if he was not entirely comfortable with the recognition. It amplified his reputation as the ultimate team man, but he has seemed discomfited ever since.

Occasionally, a player becomes so overtaken by stress that, as in Trott's case, he can bear no more. More often than not, players are beset from time to time by something more mundane - demoralising periods of failure that bear heavily upon them but to which they are resilient enough to survive. Sometimes they bounce back, sometimes decline sets quietly upon them.

Almost nine years after his England debut in an ODI against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo, Prior's career has hit problems. In his last six Ashes Tests, five of them during England's 3-0 series win in their own summer, Prior has scored only 137 runs at 15.20, hardly the contribution England would have anticipated from a player who before facing Australia last summer had a Test average of 44.34. Australia have starved his strength square of the wicket so skilfully - occasionally they have even trapped him there - they have made him look one-dimensional as a result. He has not passed fifty in first-class cricket since May, a brief restorative period with Sussex proving just as unsuccessful.

When Prior returned from New Zealand in March, the Auckland Test heroically saved and his own backs-to-the-wall hundred at the centre of it, he was hailed as a rival to Kumar Sangakkara as the best wicketkeeper-batsman in the world, a position achieved by maximum commitment. But as England retained the Ashes, he was outplayed by his opposite number, Brad Haddin. In Brisbane, too, it was Haddin who revived Australia's first innings from 132 for 6 in league with Mitchell Johnson, while Prior fell to two weak dismissals - a first-ball duck in the first innings, 4 in the second - two vacillating pushes to leg against the offspin of Nathan Lyon.

The observation by England's team director, Andy Flower, in the wake of the Brisbane Test that it was not just Mitchell Johnson who had wrecked England, but that soft dismissals against Lyon could not be ignored seemed aimed at Prior as much as anybody. It even encouraged speculation that Jonny Bairstow, far from being out of favour, could replace Prior at Adelaide and bat at No 7. Bairstow, after all, had been on stand-by in Brisbane before Prior's recovery from a calf injury was confirmed on the morning of the first Test.

It is just about possible to contend that Bairstow in Adelaide, on a slow, low drop-in pitch, might have a better chance of making runs than Prior in his current frame of mind. But then England move to Perth, where more pace and bounce can be expected, and where Prior, such a strong cutter, might just come back into his own, bent as he will be upon proving Australian suggestions that England are vulnerable against fast bowling are, in his own words "just plain wrong".

England, in any case, showed what they thought of the theory that Prior might be stepped down in Adelaide by batting him at No. 4 in Alice Springs and declaring their first-innings before Bairstow, coming in well down the order, got too many runs for it to be embarrassing. Prior looks bound to play his 59th consecutive Test in Adelaide.

Prior's pugnacious nature has shone through before, in good times and bad, never more so than when he phoned up Kevin Pietersen at the height of his stand-off with the ECB

"Obviously I am in a slump of form," Prior accepted in his ghosted column in the Daily Telegraph. "The only thing you can do is front up and get stuck in." But the uneasy feeling remains that as well as his struggles with Achilles problems, the vice-captaincy has not sat easily on him. To combine the formidable equilibrium of Cook with the more vigorous, outspoken Prior, on the face of it, was a sound move, but the longer he goes without a meaningful score, the more one wonders if the additional role really suits him.

Haddin, by contrast, is clearly an ideal foil for Michael Clarke. Haddin steadies Clarke's captaincy on the field, and he is even more important off it, the solid senior professional who acts as a conduit between the players and a captain who can become a little distant from the earthier aspects of a cricket dressing room.

Prior has conquered tough times before. It is too late in any case to consider moving to America and taking up baseball like he did the first time he was dropped after 10 Tests by England, back in 2007 after a bungling keeping display on a tour of Sri Lanka. Now, unusually, it is his batting which is under review. But his pugnacious nature has shone through before, in good times and bad, never more so than when he phoned up Pietersen at the height of his stand-off with the ECB and told him that the dispute was damaging the dressing room and had to end.

Ahead of him lies Alan Knott's England record of 269 dismissals, but he would be foolish to look that far into the distance. If he focuses his craggy stare on anything, it should be Adelaide and Haddin in particular because a recovery would begin by outdoing his opposite number. That he would outperform Haddin was regarded by many observers as a formality in May, but six Tests into a 10-Test contest, it is Haddin whose stock has risen. If Prior does not reverse the trend, England's task will be so much harder.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Aussiesfalling on December 3, 2013, 16:17 GMT

    Anyone who knows anything about keeping knows that Haddin was a talented acrobat able to impress on bouncy surfaces. The passage of time and the loss of athleticism has undermined a technique with little foot movement. Technically and athletically Prior is streets ahead. As Clarke's deputy, Haddin has been particularly erratic in the field being of little benefit to Clarke on DRS. As a batter, Haddin remains equally as flakey with the bat as Prior. The fact that Haddin is currently in better form with the bat should not dupe those both above and below the line, of Prior's all-round greater value.

  • brusselslion on December 3, 2013, 12:29 GMT

    @JG2704: If we look at last season's first class batting averages then, Davies outperformed Bairstow: Davies averaged 45.63; Bairstow 39.14.

  • neil99 on December 3, 2013, 5:14 GMT

    Randyoz

    "haddin, who noone really rates".

    Yep, you hit the nail on the head there. Nobody rates him because he's niether a decent keeper nor batsman.

    Prior obliterates this dummy on every level.

  • RandyOZ on December 2, 2013, 22:48 GMT

    Haddin, who no one really rates, is still better than Prior. The South African has never really been in the same class as Gilly or Sangakkara.

  • Speng on December 2, 2013, 17:30 GMT

    "That Alastair Cook now faces the sternest test of his captaincy should not be up for debate. The suspicion that this England side might be past its peak is stronger now than when they went 1-0 down to India in Ahmedabad a year ago but recovered to take the series."

    Well said at least Ahmedabad they came out of that match with a fighting score from Cook to prove to the other batsmen that they could score in India. After the Gabba what do they have?

  • LaneyMEngland on December 2, 2013, 10:39 GMT

    Those two dismissals against Lyon in Brisbane showed a player with confidence at rock bottom, I would drop Prior and back Bairstow at 6 to score runs, opening up the selection options, bringing Prior back for Perth if Bairstow doesn't perform. I know it goes against the England way of doing things but this could be a positive psychological swing for one or both of Bairstow and Prior, however the Adelaide test goes. Bresnan has to play if deemed fit enough, this is a tough side to pick for the England selectors, but the fans want to see a bit of bravery for once, go for the win with 5 bowlers (Bresnan or Stokes as 5th bowler). Brave team would be: Cook, Carberry, Root, Pietersen, Bell, Bairstow, Bresnan (or Stokes), Broad, Swann, Tremlett, Anderson.

  • DaisonGarvasis on December 2, 2013, 9:05 GMT

    Sadly for Prior the End is near - but not the slump but his career.

  • milepost on December 2, 2013, 8:05 GMT

    Prior's form slump is longer than the Great Wall of China. I like the guy but he's a liability for England now. His batting position is also key to protecting the tail so the importance of it should not be underestimated.

  • on December 2, 2013, 8:04 GMT

    Prior is an excellent cricketer who has been worked out by the Aussies. Adelaide might be the best place to rediscover form. If he can't, Bairstow looks to be a good option for Perth.

  • warnerbasher on December 2, 2013, 5:48 GMT

    They have lost one test match this year and because of that they are doomed? Give me a break! There are alot of good players(if dull) in this English team and I expect them to bounce back. Just reminding people that we had lost 7 of our last 9 tests before Brisbane. Prior is a superb player on song and one of only 2 English players I would pay to watch in any discipline. That fact that the other player was also born in South Africa says alot about the dash of English born players.

  • Aussiesfalling on December 3, 2013, 16:17 GMT

    Anyone who knows anything about keeping knows that Haddin was a talented acrobat able to impress on bouncy surfaces. The passage of time and the loss of athleticism has undermined a technique with little foot movement. Technically and athletically Prior is streets ahead. As Clarke's deputy, Haddin has been particularly erratic in the field being of little benefit to Clarke on DRS. As a batter, Haddin remains equally as flakey with the bat as Prior. The fact that Haddin is currently in better form with the bat should not dupe those both above and below the line, of Prior's all-round greater value.

  • brusselslion on December 3, 2013, 12:29 GMT

    @JG2704: If we look at last season's first class batting averages then, Davies outperformed Bairstow: Davies averaged 45.63; Bairstow 39.14.

  • neil99 on December 3, 2013, 5:14 GMT

    Randyoz

    "haddin, who noone really rates".

    Yep, you hit the nail on the head there. Nobody rates him because he's niether a decent keeper nor batsman.

    Prior obliterates this dummy on every level.

  • RandyOZ on December 2, 2013, 22:48 GMT

    Haddin, who no one really rates, is still better than Prior. The South African has never really been in the same class as Gilly or Sangakkara.

  • Speng on December 2, 2013, 17:30 GMT

    "That Alastair Cook now faces the sternest test of his captaincy should not be up for debate. The suspicion that this England side might be past its peak is stronger now than when they went 1-0 down to India in Ahmedabad a year ago but recovered to take the series."

    Well said at least Ahmedabad they came out of that match with a fighting score from Cook to prove to the other batsmen that they could score in India. After the Gabba what do they have?

  • LaneyMEngland on December 2, 2013, 10:39 GMT

    Those two dismissals against Lyon in Brisbane showed a player with confidence at rock bottom, I would drop Prior and back Bairstow at 6 to score runs, opening up the selection options, bringing Prior back for Perth if Bairstow doesn't perform. I know it goes against the England way of doing things but this could be a positive psychological swing for one or both of Bairstow and Prior, however the Adelaide test goes. Bresnan has to play if deemed fit enough, this is a tough side to pick for the England selectors, but the fans want to see a bit of bravery for once, go for the win with 5 bowlers (Bresnan or Stokes as 5th bowler). Brave team would be: Cook, Carberry, Root, Pietersen, Bell, Bairstow, Bresnan (or Stokes), Broad, Swann, Tremlett, Anderson.

  • DaisonGarvasis on December 2, 2013, 9:05 GMT

    Sadly for Prior the End is near - but not the slump but his career.

  • milepost on December 2, 2013, 8:05 GMT

    Prior's form slump is longer than the Great Wall of China. I like the guy but he's a liability for England now. His batting position is also key to protecting the tail so the importance of it should not be underestimated.

  • on December 2, 2013, 8:04 GMT

    Prior is an excellent cricketer who has been worked out by the Aussies. Adelaide might be the best place to rediscover form. If he can't, Bairstow looks to be a good option for Perth.

  • warnerbasher on December 2, 2013, 5:48 GMT

    They have lost one test match this year and because of that they are doomed? Give me a break! There are alot of good players(if dull) in this English team and I expect them to bounce back. Just reminding people that we had lost 7 of our last 9 tests before Brisbane. Prior is a superb player on song and one of only 2 English players I would pay to watch in any discipline. That fact that the other player was also born in South Africa says alot about the dash of English born players.

  • chicko1983 on December 2, 2013, 2:14 GMT

    I said it before this series but Haddin is a better keeper/batsman than Prior any day of the week. If you look at the Ashes series, before the first test, both had played 3 series and Haddin had a slight advantage in batting stats and they were on the same number of dismissals. When you consider that Haddin ranks well below Gilchrist, Marsh, Healy, and then in terms of ability probably behind Grout and Oldfield as a great Aussie keeper, you realise how ordinary Prior is if England were consistently great at cricket.

  • on December 2, 2013, 1:16 GMT

    Let's face it England have to play two of Prior, Bairstow, Stokes and Ballance at 6 and 7.

    I'm not a huge Bairstow fan, but Prior is in such dire form with the bat that Bairstow must be considered. However, if he does come in I'd play him at six and bring in Stokes at 7. The extra bowling would be a boon if Adelaide lives up to the predictions of a flat batting strip.

    But Prior on form is a better bat than any of the others and it's hard to see how he can recover his form without playing - a spell with the performance squad perhaps?

  • Chris_P on December 1, 2013, 22:33 GMT

    @ landl47. Agree with you, Prior has his test record to prove he can cut it at this level, I saw him play a couple of games for the Thunder last season & he didn't look anything like the player of the past so his efforts in the Ashes over your way didn't surprise me as he was batting the same way. He has been the top keeper/batsmen in test cricket for a few years but this slump hasn't helped England's cause at all. Even his usually impeccable calls for reviews have been wrong lately as I know Cook relies on his opinion a lot.

  • Jaffa79 on December 1, 2013, 22:17 GMT

    Prior is class and is going through a rough patch. Who hasn't? Anyone touting Kieswetter as his replacement knows little or nothing about cricket. Kieswetter is a stand and deliver T20 slogger without the technique to play Test match innings. Oh, and he can't catch as well.

  • ShutTheGate on December 1, 2013, 22:16 GMT

    I can't see the English selectors dropping Prior at least until the Melbourne test. If they do the English side could be vulnerable if they get a bowling injury.

    Saying that Australia still need to get more consistent with their top order. Rogers and Watson both didn't really contribute in Brisbane.

  • kensohatter on December 1, 2013, 21:57 GMT

    Tough time for Prior and as an aussie im certainly happy hes not in form at present cause he is one of the most devastating counter attacking keepers when hes on his game. However he is not currently and is proving somewhat of a liability. Id put his back against the wall (where he does his best work) and say to him that he has 2 test matches Adelaide and Perth. If he has simiiar dismissals to that at the Gabba its game over. I say this because the flat track of adelaide and the bounce of perth suit him so if he cant score runs there its highly unlikely he will score them at melb or sydney

  • on December 1, 2013, 21:25 GMT

    England has lost just one Test, let's not panick

  • JG2704 on December 1, 2013, 21:24 GMT

    @Englishfan on (December 1, 2013, 12:06 GMT) You seem to imply that Davies is a better batsman than Jonny. May I ask on what grounds? Jonny has a better 1st class average (by 5) , so surely that's the only way you can really compare. 30 isn't all that bad considering he had such an awful start vs WI. Folk say about Jonny not being good enough but I reckon he has a better 1st class average than any English WK in recent decades and I reckon that his batting average as it stands for England is only 2nd to Prior and Stewart from Eng WKs from recent decades. Prior actually has a better batting average for England than first class. Not sure re Prior's early England record as re batting but I reckon he'll have improved. Stewart had a very poor start (don't think he kept for Eng to begin with) but ended up averaging nearly 40.

  • DJAbacus on December 1, 2013, 20:15 GMT

    Prior will not be dropped...he is the Vice Captain and is having a bad run with the bat at the moment. It happens. Soon enough he will play a good innings and the talk will move on to the next player.

  • anton1234 on December 1, 2013, 19:42 GMT

    I think Prior should be discarded with, for good. He has had his day and he will never be as good as he was at his peak. It's time to look to the future. I think the only concern they have about Bairstow is whether if he makes a glaring error or two with the gloves which could potentially end up costing a lot of runs (giving a good batsman a second life, for example). But if they had those worries why didn't they include someone like Craig Kieswetter in the squad? Oh I get it. They don't want to be seen to be picking yet another South African in the squad.

  • on December 1, 2013, 18:40 GMT

    Bairstow is playing well too and was not out last practice match. Bring him in.

  • First_Drop on December 1, 2013, 17:30 GMT

    From an Australian point of view, the more change in the England setup, the better. And there are so many doubt now in the England team; Pretty much all of the batsmen, and 2 of the bowlers. Still, if the Adelaide pitch plays anything to tradition, then this is the wicket upon which batsmen may find their lost form.

  • on December 1, 2013, 17:15 GMT

    You can't afford to keep picking prior when he is not contributing enough is enough Bairstow in

  • CodandChips on December 1, 2013, 15:04 GMT

    @sevugapandian Kieswetter shouldn't be anywhere near the test side. He cant keep or bat.

    If keepers didnt have to bat, I'm sure either Foster or Bates would have to be in the squad. But since keepers are required to be batsmen, the next best after Prior is Davies.

  • landl47 on December 1, 2013, 14:36 GMT

    All players go through slumps in form from time to time, but Prior's has come at a most unfortunate time for England. However, he is the kind of player who can get out of a slump quickly, because he attacks the bowling. A little slice of luck, a couple of balls hitting the middle of the bat and he'll be away again. Let's hope it happens in the next couple of tests.

    @David Hopps: Since Prior doesn't play ODIs and Sangakarra hasn't kept wicket in test cricket for 3 years, I'm not sure in which capacity Prior could be said to be challenging Sanga as a WK/batsman. These days players in different formats can't really be judged against each other.

  • sevugapandian on December 1, 2013, 14:22 GMT

    Bring kieswetter to strength Eng team.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on December 1, 2013, 14:13 GMT

    I'd give Prior one more game to try and make some sort of impact, otherwise Bairstow should be wicket-keeper for 3rd game. CLASS is permanent, and Prior is CLASSY - he would still easily be my first choice England wicket-keeper for tests if FORM wasn't an issue. No doubts or excuses from anyone as far as I can see that Prior is severely out of FORM - full stop. Yes the Australian bowlers have been excellent at devising and executing plans to each player including Prior, but I somehow doubt that a wide long-hop outside leg-stump was part of any bowling plan and yet Prior STILL flirted with it and popped an easy catch. That spells horrible form and temperament to me, but I have no doubts a class player like Prior can shake it off sooner or later. For England's sake this Ashes series, it had better be sooner...

  • jmcilhinney on December 1, 2013, 13:58 GMT

    @gsingh7 on (December 1, 2013, 13:04 GMT), that's because he was better than Dhoni as a Test match batsman and the fact that Sangakarra is no longer a wicketkeeper. His form is abominable at the moment but if he can get back to batting the way he was then he will be better than Dhoni again. If he can't then ce la vie and he may not be a Test keeper for too much longer.

  • davidhopps1 on December 1, 2013, 13:17 GMT

    @Mitty2. Who has said Matt Prior would be more suited to Adelaide? Can't remember anybody arguing that? The piece suggests that he would be more suited to Perth, and that arguably Jonny Bairstow might be more suited to Adelaide.

  • gsingh7 on December 1, 2013, 13:04 GMT

    some were claiming him to be above dhoni and sangakarra in tests. but his form this year does not warrant him in even top 5 wk batsmen in tests . sorry to say, but sub continent wk batsmen are leading the way in tests as well as odis along with ab deviliers(whose wk skills are overrated though)

  • Batmanindallas on December 1, 2013, 12:53 GMT

    Team man is good but at some stage he has to perform or make way for a younger more hungry player

  • Mitty2 on December 1, 2013, 12:16 GMT

    Also, on the issue of a supposed Eng weakness against fast bowling and the comment on Prior's play now being more suited to the slower and lower Adelaide, can it stop? Literally the major consensus from Eng fans in defense of an underwhelming batting display that was papered over by Bell last Ashes was: "our batsmen are more suited to the truer, bouncier and faster pitches". This was especially in reference to Cook and Prior but now that Prior did fail on the bouncier Gabba, he's suddenly more suited to the slower pitches. Please, he averages over 40 for a reason. It's a form slump, nothing more - blaming the pitches for Prior's pitfalls when he's scored all over the world against all kinds of attacks is like saying Eng have a better team on paper to Australia when they're losing 1-0: it has no relevance whatsoever.

  • Cricmaths123 on December 1, 2013, 12:14 GMT

    I think prior should be out of the team and bairstow should come in as a wicketkeeper.

  • Jda123 on December 1, 2013, 12:11 GMT

    And botham was once saying best WK batsman for Test... Hah

    Since the NZ tour from what I remember he has failed.

  • CodandChips on December 1, 2013, 12:06 GMT

    He has been such an important player for us in the last few years. But unfortunately his time is probably up. I would rather Davies here than Bairstow, because he is only 27, can keep and can bat. Bairstow hasn't exactly blown anyone away in any form of the game for England, and in test cricket only averages 30 in 18 matches. But perhaps keeping and batting 7 might help Bairstow's batting, so if he plays, good luck to him. But if Prior keeps failing, he should not keep his place in the side.

  • Mitty2 on December 1, 2013, 12:04 GMT

    Yep, Prior out shown by Haddin in every single test so far. To me, the most surprising things about the last six tests has been Prior's marked drop in form and confidence, Eng's top order instability (ignoring that the opening partnership hasn't functioned since Strauss) and Broad being the biggest threat with the ball and showing a lot of consistency. Ignoring the pair he made against NZ the test before, was it in Dunedin where he had a match saving rearguard innings not a three tests prior? I watched a fair bit of it and his innings was nothing short of amazing. I did laugh at his England "legacy" comments and some of the things he was saying before the last Ashes about squashing Australia but I've always respected him as a player with both bat and glove. Maybe it's the Peter Siddle factor, he's been dismissed by him 9 or 10 times at an average closer to 10 than 20 ;). Him being Siddle's bunny has rubbed off to general form and if he fails again bairstow should be given a shot.

  • milepost on December 1, 2013, 11:57 GMT

    I like Prior, he was a good batsman, we all like to see the aggressive players, especially in a team of snail-like accumulators. However, his best form is over 12 months behind him and his England career must surely be coming to an end.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • milepost on December 1, 2013, 11:57 GMT

    I like Prior, he was a good batsman, we all like to see the aggressive players, especially in a team of snail-like accumulators. However, his best form is over 12 months behind him and his England career must surely be coming to an end.

  • Mitty2 on December 1, 2013, 12:04 GMT

    Yep, Prior out shown by Haddin in every single test so far. To me, the most surprising things about the last six tests has been Prior's marked drop in form and confidence, Eng's top order instability (ignoring that the opening partnership hasn't functioned since Strauss) and Broad being the biggest threat with the ball and showing a lot of consistency. Ignoring the pair he made against NZ the test before, was it in Dunedin where he had a match saving rearguard innings not a three tests prior? I watched a fair bit of it and his innings was nothing short of amazing. I did laugh at his England "legacy" comments and some of the things he was saying before the last Ashes about squashing Australia but I've always respected him as a player with both bat and glove. Maybe it's the Peter Siddle factor, he's been dismissed by him 9 or 10 times at an average closer to 10 than 20 ;). Him being Siddle's bunny has rubbed off to general form and if he fails again bairstow should be given a shot.

  • CodandChips on December 1, 2013, 12:06 GMT

    He has been such an important player for us in the last few years. But unfortunately his time is probably up. I would rather Davies here than Bairstow, because he is only 27, can keep and can bat. Bairstow hasn't exactly blown anyone away in any form of the game for England, and in test cricket only averages 30 in 18 matches. But perhaps keeping and batting 7 might help Bairstow's batting, so if he plays, good luck to him. But if Prior keeps failing, he should not keep his place in the side.

  • Jda123 on December 1, 2013, 12:11 GMT

    And botham was once saying best WK batsman for Test... Hah

    Since the NZ tour from what I remember he has failed.

  • Cricmaths123 on December 1, 2013, 12:14 GMT

    I think prior should be out of the team and bairstow should come in as a wicketkeeper.

  • Mitty2 on December 1, 2013, 12:16 GMT

    Also, on the issue of a supposed Eng weakness against fast bowling and the comment on Prior's play now being more suited to the slower and lower Adelaide, can it stop? Literally the major consensus from Eng fans in defense of an underwhelming batting display that was papered over by Bell last Ashes was: "our batsmen are more suited to the truer, bouncier and faster pitches". This was especially in reference to Cook and Prior but now that Prior did fail on the bouncier Gabba, he's suddenly more suited to the slower pitches. Please, he averages over 40 for a reason. It's a form slump, nothing more - blaming the pitches for Prior's pitfalls when he's scored all over the world against all kinds of attacks is like saying Eng have a better team on paper to Australia when they're losing 1-0: it has no relevance whatsoever.

  • Batmanindallas on December 1, 2013, 12:53 GMT

    Team man is good but at some stage he has to perform or make way for a younger more hungry player

  • gsingh7 on December 1, 2013, 13:04 GMT

    some were claiming him to be above dhoni and sangakarra in tests. but his form this year does not warrant him in even top 5 wk batsmen in tests . sorry to say, but sub continent wk batsmen are leading the way in tests as well as odis along with ab deviliers(whose wk skills are overrated though)

  • davidhopps1 on December 1, 2013, 13:17 GMT

    @Mitty2. Who has said Matt Prior would be more suited to Adelaide? Can't remember anybody arguing that? The piece suggests that he would be more suited to Perth, and that arguably Jonny Bairstow might be more suited to Adelaide.

  • jmcilhinney on December 1, 2013, 13:58 GMT

    @gsingh7 on (December 1, 2013, 13:04 GMT), that's because he was better than Dhoni as a Test match batsman and the fact that Sangakarra is no longer a wicketkeeper. His form is abominable at the moment but if he can get back to batting the way he was then he will be better than Dhoni again. If he can't then ce la vie and he may not be a Test keeper for too much longer.