The Realm’s England XI – 7. Matt Prior

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We’re picking an England XI comprising the players we invested in the most.

We’ve got to be honest, there was more competition for some spots in this team than there was for others. This is entirely unsurprising. After all, you only ever play one wicketkeeper at a time.

We did very much like Matt Prior though.

Prior is primarily remembered for three things.

  1. Smashing a window at Lord’s
  2. The Big Cheese stuff in KP’s autobiography (we’re pretty confident KP got the wrong end of the stick and the ‘Cheese’ nickname was about this kind of thing, by the way)
  3. Being brutally eroded by international cricket and having to retire at 32

It’s easy to forget that Prior was also just about the best wicketkeeper-batsman England have had.

He played 79 Tests – all of them behind the stumps – and averaged 40.18. Only nine players who’ve scored more Test runs have done so at a higher strike-rate. (The guy immediately above him is Pietersen, weirdly.)

An England A team toured India in 2003/04 and pretty much everybody was rubbish except Kevin Pietersen, who scored a bunch of hundreds, and Matt Prior, who scored a bunch of fifties.

From then on, we followed both of them quite closely and both of them routinely made so many runs that we were convinced their occasional quiet periods were just aberrations. They were.

Matt Prior could have batted for England even if he hadn’t been a wicketkeeper. The fact that he did keep wicket and then scored his runs in this selfless helter-skelter way only increased our affection for him.

His spectacularly cruel 118 at the SCG in 2011 was rather nice too.

We’ll finish with the fictional distillation of his career we first used in our retirement piece about him:

England are good; England are ahead; Prior cuts a short one at a million miles an hour straight towards a boundary fielder but somehow still runs two, diving for his crease to complete the second. Shortly afterwards, England declare and they go on to win easily. The end.

11 comments

  1. Probably the first choice I wouldn’t have voted for (although I would probably have had Cook over Atherton, mainly as I think he edges the ‘bat all day without ever looking bored or like you want to increase the run rate’ mentality).

    Jack Russell would have made my team on idiosyncratic Weetabix consumption methods alone.

    1. Actually, I don’t think I would have had Hick either. I think my team would have been all-rounder heavy (with the odd heavy all-rounder).

      1. I found myself investing more in wicketkeepers who I liked yet seemed at perpetual risk of dropping, they’re the ones I’m really willing to get a fifty (or more) to become drop-proof-for-now and whom I was most disappointed to see get out or drop a catch. Prior spent so much of his career on top of things that ironically I invested in him less than players who seemed constantly under trial, like JR.

  2. Jonny Bairstow’s dad was a huge character in the Yorkshire side when I first got into cricket. His sad death meant that I always rooted for Jonny.

    Richard Blakey followed him as Yorkshire keeper (although I wish he had continued as pure batsman) and and I yearned for him to play for England when I was in my teens, when all of my yearnings were at their most intense.

    However, I can have no complaints about Prior’s selection.

  3. Even though he stole the Test slot Nixon should have had in 2007, I rapidly warmed to him and always loved seeing Prior walking out to bat. Always seemed to bat very selflessly, and yet it by and large worked out for him. I’ve kind of lost some enthusiasm for him post-retirement because he’s given me the impression of bring a bit of a cock. Not sure if that’s fair or not. How’s his bike team thing going?

    In other news, I see Bresnan’s off for pastures new / semi-retirement.

    1. He was/is a bit of a cock. But KC did not stipulate that cockness and investabilityness are mutually exclusive.

    2. His bike team sort of folded and he changed the brand into a sports nutrition thing. Pretty sure that’s the latest.

  4. Only agree with yer Maj on two selections so far, Athers and Collingwood. Though, as long as Gough is in, I’ll root for this team.

  5. Hard to criticise this choice given that it is based on KC’s emotional investment in players.

    A generational thing, I suppose, but if it were about my emotional investment it would have to be Alan Knott; I always find myself comparing emerging keeper/batsmen with Knotty.

    Prior is for sure the better batsman of those two, but for his era Alan Knott also was a fine batsman – I recall him playing a good few match-winning or match-saving knocks.

    Knott was supremely talented as a keeper, whereas I felt with Matt Prior that keeping wasn’t completely natural to him. But Prior worked at keeping until he was sufficiently good enough to justify his place in a strong England team and keep it for some time. That, in a different way from Knotty, is a great achievement for a keeper/batsman.

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