Monday, 14 May 2007

Prior Knowledge

Matt Prior has failed at the start of this campaign, but he has worked his way up over a number of seasons, and deserves his chance. Essentially, Prior should aim to be what we thought Geraint Jones would turn out to be: not a natural keeper, but one constantly improving; and a batsman good enough to average 35 over a significant period of time.

Prior has done disappointingly in 12 ODIs to date, but 11 of these were in the subcontinent batting inside the top three. Last summer, he averaged 46 and, for the second time in four years, played a vital part in a Sussex Championship triumph. In total, he averages very nearly 40 in first-class cricket and has already scored 12 hundreds. Considering the vast majority of these games have been in Division One and he is only 25, these stats are testament to his potential.

Prior is a reasonably brash personality, but clearly gets on very well with Peter Moores. Although James Foster, Jon Batty and especially Paul Nixon, amongst a multitude of candidates, will feel a little aggrieved, the indications are that the selectors believe Prior to have the most batting aptitude of all the candidates. Going batting over keeping, however, is an indication that England do not want to abandon their policy of playing Andrew Flintoff at six as part of a five-man attack.


Nick Gammons said...

With Collingwood, Bell and Vaughan (when fit) as backup I think England only need four bowlers and should relieve the pressure on Flintoff by batting him at seven. That would open the way to a keeper who was not under such intense pressure for runs, though a keeper should average over 30 anyway.

In my view Stephen Davies should be given a go, especially as West Indies and India are not the toughest opposition at the moment and he is clearly the long term prospect.

From what I have seen Prior's keeping is not good enough, even if he gets some runs with the bat. Only if he turns out to be a batsman of Stewart's class can his keeping be tolerated.

Richard Lake said...

Can't agree with you on Davies, Nick. To my mind the international careers of both Foster and Read have been wrecked by playing them too early. Davies is still too young, he's not in great form with the bat and he'll benefit from going into Test cricket with a few seasons behind him, rather than as a promising youngster.

Chrispy said...

If you play five bowlers and England do, the keeper has to be a top six batsman and Prior's record shows that he is the leading candidate for that role. A lot of people complain about his keeping but by playing four bowlers to get the better keeper in prehaps ur going to create less chances to take wickets even if the guy behind might be more capable of taking them all. End of the day you need 400+ now to be competitive and with Flintoff looking shaky, the keeper must contribute decent runs, 50's and 100's. His keeping is developing too after all. Good luck to him, he deserves this chance.

PS: Yep, too early for Davies, who is finding it tough at the higher level so far.

Nick Gammons said...

I hope you're both right and Prior doesn't turn out to be Geraint Jones mark two. If he can bat as well as he has done for Sussex at International level and his keeping improves then he might be what England need.

I concede that Davies is struggling at the moment and it could be too early to bring him in. I just hope he is kept in the frame as he is an exciting prospect.