Matt Prior has always put the team first and that’s what he’s done again by effectively ending his England career. For that he has to be applauded.
I’ve got so much respect for what Matt has achieved during his England career and that went up a notch this week. In his quotes about taking the rest of the season off to get fully fit he also said he wants to get back in the team next season.
If that happens then the Test team will be in even more dire straits than they are at the moment because it will mean Jos Buttler has struggled badly. Not that I think Jos will.
He’s taken everything in his stride brilliantly so far and although there’s plenty of work to do on his keeping he’s a potential superstar with the bat in his hand. I’d love to spend a day or two with him to work on his keeping but I’m in awe of the way he bats.
He’s one of the most gifted I’ve seen and simply must be told to play his natural game for England. He will give his wicket away on occasions and frustrate us, but if he gets going he’s the sort of player that can change a Test match in a session.
I see similarities in Jos with Matt when he was first picked in 2007. Not the best keeper in the business but an exciting batsmen with plenty of potential. It’s that long ago that Matt started with England and I was actually a little upset I wasn’t picked instead.
I’d come back from the World Cup as the keeper and was in the mix to get a go. But they went for Matt, he scored a hundred on debut and that was me done for! He did struggle at times with the gloves but showed what a top professional he was when he was dropped in favour of Tim Ambrose after a poor tour of Sri Lanka.
He went back to Sussex and worked and worked on his keeping. It proved the making of him. I’d argue that during the middle part of his Test career he was up there with Kumar Sangakkara as the best wicketkeeper-batsman in the world.
He was the engine room of the England team at their best – coming in at, say, 350-5 and playing shots to set up the chance of taking 20 wickets, or, when the team were struggling, counter-attacking brilliantly. He’s clearly going to be missed but he’s not been right this summer.
As I said last week he’s been creaking a bit and when you are like that you only think negatively about the worst that can happen. That’s no mindset for a keeper.
He will have been desperate to stay in the team, but by taking this decision he’s put the team first and that’s to be applauded. He’s been so selfless at times. He could easily have averaged another four or five runs on top of his 40.18 in 79 Tests, a wonderful return batting at seven.
He’s a multiple Ashes winner, a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 2010 and I hope he comes back and has a fantastic time with Sussex. If Jos can get anywhere near those achievements then he will be well worth watching in the coming years. It would be nice to see him start with a bang!