Matt Prior will go down as an underrated batsman bit a fine performer for England    Getty Images
Matt Prior will go down as an underrated batsman bit a fine performer for England Getty Images

Matt Prior announced his retirement from all forms of cricket on June 11, 2015, thereby calling quits on a distinguished international career. Shiamak Unwalla takes a brief look at the career of one of England’s finest ever wicketkeeper-batsmen.

Matt Prior will never be considered as iconic a name as Alan Knott or Alec Stewart, though he was probably the best batsman, as designated wicketkeeper, of the three. As a ‘keeper he was often reliable but never spectacular. As a batsman, however, he was grossly underrated and capable of remarkable counter-attacks lower down the order. READ: Matt Prior retires from all forms of cricket

The wicketkeeper-batsman

Among all wicketkeeper-batsmen to have played Test cricket, Prior is the eighth-highest run-scorer. It should be noted that this includes the stats of players as designated wicketkeepers. This eliminates all the innings played by the likes of Kumar Sangakkara, Alec Stewart, and AB de Villiers when they played as non-wicketkeepers.

Below is the list of leading run-scorers among Test wicketkeepers:

Name

Team

Period

M

R

HS

Ave

100s

50s

Adam Gilchrist

Australia

1999-2008

96

5570

204*

47.6

17

26

Mark Boucher

South Africa, ICC

1997-2012

147

5515

125

30.3

5

35

MS Dhoni

India

2005-2014

90

4876

224

38.1

6

33

Alec Stewart

England

1991-2003

82

4540

173

34.9

6

23

Andy Flower

Zimbabwe

1992-2002

55

4404

232*

53.7

12

23

Alan Knott

England

1967-1981

95

4389

135

32.8

5

30

Ian Healy

Australia

1988-1999

119

4356

161*

27.4

4

22

Matt Prior

England

2007-2014

79

4099

131*

40.2

7

28

Rod Marsh

Australia

1970-1984

96

3633

132

26.5

3

16

Brad Haddin

Australia

2008-2015

64

3215

169

33.5

4

18

Among the top 10, only Andy Flower and Adam Gilchrist enjoy a higher average than Prior. He has also scored the most centuries behind the same two men. Had he played more than 79 Tests, he would probably have ended up as one of the highest wicketkeeping run-scorers. READ: Matt Prior retires from international cricket: Reactions

The batsman

Prior was also a distinguished batsman lower down the order. In fact, Prior averages more than some exalted names like Basil D’Oliveira, John Edrich, Mike Denness, Alec Stewart (though as a pure batsman Stewart is way ahead), Mike Atherton, Nasser Hussain, Frank Woolley, and Mike Gatting.

Prior scored a terrific century on debut against West Indies at Lord’s. He scored seven centuries in all, along with 28 half-centuries. His strike rate of 61.66 shows his ability to score quick runs when the need arose. However, he was equally adept at digging in, as he showed when he scored a 100-ball 19 not out to help England salvage a draw after being bowled out for 81 in response to Sri Lanka’s 499 at Galle in 2007-08.

The wicketkeeper

Below is the list of leading wicketkeepers in Test cricket:

Name

Team

Period

M

Dis

Ct

St

Mark Boucher

South Africa, ICC

1997-2012

147

555

532

23

Adam Gilchrist

Australia

1999-2008

96

416

379

37

Ian Healy

Australia

1988-1999

119

395

366

29

Rod Marsh

Australia

1970-1984

96

355

343

12

MS Dhoni

India

2005-2014

90

294

256

38

Jeff Dujon

West Indies

1981-1991

81

270

265

5

Alan Knott

England

1967-1981

95

269

250

19

Brad Haddin

Australia

2008-2015

64

260

252

8

Matt Prior

England

2007-2014

79

256

243

13

Alec Stewart

England

1990-2003

133

241

227

14

Prior is the ninth-ranked wicketkeeper in Tests in terms of dismissals. With 256 victims in 79 Tests, Prior is behind only Alan Knott for England.

Prior’s loss will affect England, though his incumbent replacement Jos Buttler has done well in his limited opportunities so far. Prior will go down as one of England’s most underrated yet valuable cricketers, and a crucial cog in their Test scheme for his seven-year long career.

(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek who loves cricket more than cricketers. His Twitter handle is @ShiamakUnwalla)