Cricket

Matt Prior steps down from England cricket duty with injury

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England wicketkeeper Matt Prior has taken a break from all forms of cricket with immediate effect, citing a variety of injuries as the main factor in coming to his decision.

Despite a lack of runs with the bat, the 32-year-old has remained an ever-present in Alastair Cook’s side. But as England’s winless Test match streak continues to grow, Prior has finally decided to step aside.

The Sussex man isn’t putting his gloves down permanently though, and a statement – released by the player – reveals that it is only for the remainder of this summer that he will be unavailable for selection.

Surgery is required on his Achilles, and some much-needed rest and recuperation after that could be invaluable to the rest of his playing career.

Statement

The statement, which was released hours after England lost the second Test to India at Lord’s by 95 runs, explained: “I'm not doing justice to myself and more importantly the team and that is what matters first and foremost.

“I tore my quad before the first Test and my right hand has been beaten to a pulp but
the main issue is the Achilles.

“Now we have the time, I want to be pro-active about how we deal with it so I imagine
that I'll have an operation.”

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Form

The three-time Ashes winner was an integral part of England’s ascension to the top of the ICC Test Rankings, but has come under criticism for his performances in recent months.

Prior’s highest score of the summer came at Lord’s when he recorded 86 in the first innings against Sri Lanka. Aside from that, he has only passed 20 twice in his last four Test matches.

Nevertheless, the keeper still averages over 40 with the bat in the longest format of the
game.

But in recent weeks, it is arguable that injury has got the better of him, with erratic shots leading to simple dismissals.

Injury

Prior’s statement added: “I've always said as long as I can do my job I will manage the
pain and get on with it but it has now got to the point where I can't do my job to the level I expect of myself.

“Playing for England is the greatest honour you can have in the game and that is my motivation to come back and try and play again in the best possible condition.

“I've made my decision for the good of the team and whoever comes in I genuinely wish
them the best of luck.”

Honourable

By handing over the gloves, there are no guarantees that Prior – who has won 79 Test caps – will return to the Test arena again. It would be fitting if his final Test appearance was to come at the home of cricket.

He will need to prove himself once he has recovered from surgery, which still might not be enough to swing favour back in his direction.

You have to respect the decision of Prior to take it upon himself to vacate the wicketkeeper position in the national side. It is an admirable move.

Other wicketkeeping options

His withdrawal came on the same day that Alastair Cook reinforced his desire to remain as England captain to turn the team’s fortunes around.

Now the skipper has the difficult choice of selecting Prior’s successor. Jos Buttler seems the obvious option, having represented England in 69 limited-overs internationals.

The third Test against India gets underway in Southampton on Sunday, leaving little time for a replacement to prepare for the five-day encounter.

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Topics:
England cricket
India cricket
Cricket
Matt Prior

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