After enduring a nightmare Test series against India with dropped caches and poor form with the bat, Matt Prior, the England wicketkeeper, has said that the criticism from the press hit him hard and that he still had plenty to learn. Prior dropped two catches in the third Test at The Oval, including that of Sachin Tendulkar, and scored a 15-ball duck in the first innings.
"This week has been the hardest week in my cricketing life, without a shadow of a doubt," Prior told BBC Sport. "My performance has been criticised but I am still learning. Mistakes do happen. We're all human.
"I am still new to Test cricket but there are always things you can work on, improve on in your game. I am my own biggest critic and I'll work very hard with Peter Moores and Andy Flower and any other people I can to make sure I do make improvements."
Prior began the summer with a flamboyant debut century at Lord's against West Indies and followed it up with two half-centuries, also taking eight catches. However, he struggled against India, scoring 73 runs in six innings and was criticised for dropping Tendulkar and VVS Laxman at The Oval. Tendulkar, then on 20, went on to score 82 and Laxman 51 as India scored a mammoth 664 which kept England out of the match. However, his defiant unbeaten 12 in the fourth innings ensured that England saved the Test.
Prior reflected on how his short Test career had come a full circle in a matter of months. "I want to have that feeling of getting a hundred again, to take five catches again but then I get a nought and drop a high-profile player like Tendulkar," he said. "You're not going to walk out every day and feel a million dollars.
"I had to prove to myself that when you have your rough times, all you can do is get your head down and fight hard. That innings of 12 not off 60-odd balls at the end of the match wasn't my most fluent or pretty, but it was a battle."
Moores, England's coach, backed Prior to bounce back. He coached Prior at Sussex and pushed for his inclusion in the Test side ahead of Paul Nixon and Chris Read. "He's made some mistakes but he's learning and he's getting better at this environment," Moores told the Guardian. "He showed real fight and resilience and then for him to be there at the end of the match was a real feather in his cap."