Melbourne: Dec 26, 2013
Prior, ever-present in England’s three consecutive Ashes series wins over Australia, made way for wicketkeeping understudy Jonny Bairstow in yet another changing of the guard.
Prior, 31, the tour vice-captain to skipper Alastair Cook, is a veteran of 75 Tests and has not missed a Test since being recalled for England in 2009.
But Prior paid for a woeful series in Australia, averaging just 17.83 and twice missing key stumpings of David Warner in the third Perth Test when the Australia opener made a second innings century.
“What disappointed me the most about my performance was missing the stumping of David Warner when he was on 13. I am big enough to admit that,” Prior wrote in his newspaper column this week.
Prior’s sacking comes just four days after spinner Graeme Swann’s shock retirement mid-series, indicating that all was not well inside the tourists’ camp.
The Melbourne Test is the first time since August 2008 that England have gone into a Test without Jonathan Trott, Prior or Swann. Trott left the tour after the first Brisbane Test suffering from a stress-related illness.
England lost the Ashes to Australia after just 14 playing days and are now battling to stave off the home side’s bid to carry off a 5-0 series clean sweep in the remaining Tests in Melbourne and Sydney.
It has been a chaotic time in the English camp since relinquishing the Ashes in Perth before Christmas.
Swann announced his shock retirement last Sunday from all forms of cricket following England’s third straight heavy defeat to the Australians.
But the 34-year-old caused a stir with comments that were interpreted as being directed towards members of the England team.
“Some people playing the game at the minute have no idea how far up their own backsides they are,” Swann said.
“It will bite them on the arse one day and when it does I hope they look back and are embarrassed about how they carry on.”
Swann hastily denied he was referring to any of his current England teammates with his caustic comment.
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