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Matt Prior’s move to take a break from international cricket is a sensible one. It is not only sensible from England’s point of view, as they can now bring some fresh blood into the side, but also for Prior. The wicketkeeper-batsman can now recover and then chart a path for a comeback, writes Nishad Pai Vaidya.
As the game hung in the balance at lunch on Day Five, a determined Matt Prior walked out with that look in the eye. The third ball he faced was short and wide, which was smashed by Prior out of the middle of the bat through the off-side. Later, Ishant Sharma pitched it short and was pulled with power through mid-wicket. The beleaguered wicketkeeper-batsman was preparing to shed the pressure and perhaps do something heroic. But, he fell to the trap masterminded by MS Dhoni, holing out perfectly to deep mid-wicket. As he walked back, many asked, “Is this the last time Matt Prior dons the white flannels for England?”
Hours after India steamrolled the hosts at Lord’s, Prior announced that he was taking a break from international cricket for the summer. His woes had compounded over a period of time. Not only was he under pressure due to his own poor form, but also his body wasn’t helping him. Injuries seemed to have taken a toll as he didn’t look all that flexible behind the stumps. Prior will now face surgery for and then a recovery time before he can chart a comeback.
Prior admitted that he wasn’t doing his job well. In the two innings at Lord’s, he was dismissed while trying to play an aggressive shots off shortish deliveries, none more embarrassing that the one in the second essay when he walked right into the trap. But, his keeping was a bigger cause for concern. He had conceded 36 byes at Lord’s. He said, “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.”
Rather than being axed by the selectors, something that seemed obvious, it was better to walk away on your own. It would have been more than an axe, but a proverbial ousting saying that chances of a comeback were miniscule. However, by admitting that he has to set things right with his body, Prior has left more room for his comeback. He is 32 and may well have a couple of years ahead. If he can recover and perform in domestic cricket, there is no reason why he can’t comeback. Unless of course, if his successor, most likely to be Jos Buttler vanishes England’s woes behind the stumps.
Sportsmen always have this burning desire to fight even when they are down, even when they are injured, but sometimes it makes sense to accept and take a break; for that gives them a bigger chance of redemption. Prior has made the right call.
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