We should dominate the Australians during The Ashes, says Matt Prior
Matt Prior feels Australia will struggle without Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey in their batting order during the Ashes © Getty Images
London: Feb 13, 2013
England wicketkeeper Matt Prior believes Alastair Cook‘s men are ready to “bully” old rivals Australia in this year’s back-to-back Ashes series.
Cook’s side are bidding to become the first England team in over a century to win four straight Ashes campaigns, a chance they have this year when a trip Down Under follows on from a home series in order to set up a new cycle that ensures England are not always in Australia immediately before a World Cup.
Prior, a key figure with both gloves and bat in England’s 2009 and 2010/11 Ashes triumphs, grew up in an era when Australia dominated cricket’s oldest Test rivalry, with the likes of Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath starring during a run of eight straight series wins for the men in Baggy Green caps.
“I remember watching Shane Warne, Matthew Hayden and Glenn McGrath, and the way they walked around and bullied England,” Prior told BBC Sport.
“Maybe it’s our time to do a bit of bullying ourselves. If we prepare and perform as we want to, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t dominate Australia in these two Ashes series. You look at our dressing room and the skills we have in our team, batters, bowlers, the spin department, it’s all there.”
“But Ashes series are strange — there is no such thing as a weak Australian Test side and we will have to be on our game to do it.”
The Australia side that tours England this year will have an unfamiliar look, with the top order missing two mainstays following the retirements of both former captain Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey.
Meanwhile, although Australia have a raft of promising fast bowlers doubts several have already suffered injury setbacks in their short careers and much will depend upon the durability of the likes of Peter Siddle.
The Australia teams captained by Steve Waugh, of which McGrath and Warne were key members, used to revel in what their skipper called “mental disintegration” and the rest of the world knew as “sledging”.
England too have shown lately they can dish out verbal abuse in the field although, as Prior pointed out and traditionalists have long believed, the most effective way to worry an opponent is to simply play well.
“There’s more to it than the odd sledge here and there,” he said.
“There are ways of creating an intensity out on the pitch, like the way we hustle around, the way our bowlers put the ball in the right area all day long.”
However, Prior was still wary of an Australia side that, on home soil, caused South Africa problems before losing at home to the top-ranked Proteas and then promptly whitewashed Sri Lanka.
“Players like Ponting and Hussey can’t be replaced overnight and I know our guys will be relieved they don’t have to bowl at them again.
“But as one steps out, it leaves the door open for someone else. The game moves forward and we are going to have to prepare very well against whichever team plays, because they will all be wanting to do well and prove a point.”