England’s seasoned wicketkeeper, Matt Prior likes two things and they are — his cycle and beating the men from Down Under. As he is obsessed with cycling, Prior wasn’t in the best of moods when England’s think-tank decided not to allow his cycle on the plane to Down Under for the Ashes contest.
The reason given was Prior’s cycle was too big for it to be accommodated along with other baggage of English cricketers. The fact of the matter is that a golf club weighs more than his cycle.
Prior said, “I was gutted by that,” he added, “I am completely addicted to cycling, and it’s almost getting in the way of the cricket. But when you are on long tours like Australia you do need your escapism. For a lot of players it is golf, but the irony is that the bike weighs only a third of what the golf clubs do.
“Thankfully, I have managed to arrange a local bike here. I can go for a ride of anything from 60 to 100km, and it’s not just fun but also very good for fitness and helps to prevent a recurrence of my Achilles problem. Right now I feel in the best physical condition of my whole career,” as quoted by Prior saying to Express.co.uk.
In fact, it was Britain’s champion cyclists like Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome who galvanized Prior to take up cycling with such enthusiasm.
Turning back to cricket, Prior about how big an achievement it would be to win the Ashes four times in a row, “winning four in a row would be massive,” told Prior.
He also said, “It’s a huge carrot for us. This team has responded really well to being a part of history. I remember we had a players’ meeting at Lord’s back in 2009 and talking about the fact that England hadn’t beaten Australian at the ground for 75 years.
“We had to change that — and we did it. Then there was winning a first Ashes series away from home for 25 years, and we did it. There was winning away in India, which hadn’t been done for 28 years. Now it’s a record that is 123 years old.
“Those stats really get us going; we enjoy the challenge. This four in a row would be the biggest thing in my career, and I imagine also for the other boys,” Prior stated.
Prior looks back at the recently concluded Ashes series where there was an inkling that England won it 3-0 despite playing below par, he spoke, “All the talk last summer was that we would win 5-0, which was just ridiculous,” he also believed, “It was never going to happen.”
“And it was very strange. If we’d won 3-0 ten years ago the country would have stopped for a day. Yet this time it just didn’t feel good enough. I could understand it in one sense, because we didn’t play our best cricket. People want to see their team playing well, which is fair enough.
“But, believe me; nobody wants to be showing their best cricket more than the players themselves. I never want to average 20 in a series again. That was horrendous. You want to go out there scoring hundreds, taking catches and winning by an innings. That is fantastic, but it doesn’t always happen. And when you aren’t playing your best cricket you have to make sure that you still win.
Prior continued by saying, “Now, it’s a different kind of pressure in Australia. Everyone knows how difficult it is, how hard it is to beat the Aussies in Australia, so that pressure of expectancy is gone. That’s nicer for us because the team plays best when its back is against the wall.
“We also know we have to improve from the summer, and we aren’t the kind of team that ignores problems and pretends we are playing well when we aren’t. That is undoubtedly helped by having the hardest task master of all in charge — Andy Flower.”
On the rumour that Flower may leave England’s coaching job after the Ashes series in Australia, “There has been speculation that this might be Flower’s last series at the helm, but Prior says he and the players hope that is wrong. I would be really sad if Andy packed up.
“That’s because he has been pivotal for this team. When he took over in 2009 we were seventh in the world, and look at what we’ve done since — got to No 1 with the Test team and the one-day side. Who knows what he is going to do? I hope he stays on, but the important thing is we know we have him for this Ashes series. That’s all we have to worry about.
“We would certainly try to persuade him to stay if that’s in any doubt. But anyone who knows him will realise that once he’s made his mind up on something he won’t be persuaded otherwise,” Prior told.