England's vital cog

Matt Prior's love of cycling has sparked an upshift in his Test form and fitness.

Last Updated: 16/05/13 at 09:42 Post Comment

The 31-year-old became the first wicketkeeper to win the England Cricketer of the Year award ahead of this week's first Test against New Zealand, after scoring 879 runs at an average of 55 and claiming 28 catches and five stumpings in the last 12 months.

And ahead of the first Test against New Zealand he told former Sussex team-mate turned Sky Sports presenter Ian Ward that getting into the saddle last year has not only improved his fitness but provides him with a valuable form of escapism.

"It came about through the Achilles problems that I had throughout last year and the winter beforehand," said Prior, who has claimed 183 catches and 13 stumpings in 65 Tests overall.

"I got to a point where long-distance running and certainly the treadmill wasn't going to work for me anymore and they pretty much put a ban on me going on that.

"I did most of my training on the treadmill and I had to find something else. It just so happened that it also came at a time when Sir Bradley Wiggins, as we call him now, was winning the Tour de France and the Olympics and I thought 'I'll give that a go'.

"My Dad used to do quite a bit in South Africa when, obviously, I was quite a bit younger. He actually said 'I think you should give it a go'. I did and I loved it.

Position

"One of the reasons I took to it was the cycling position is pretty much the position I'm going to be in when I'm wicketkeeping for six hours a day. When you put that position on a bicycle it feels comfortable for me whereas a lot of people struggle to be quite low and it hurts their neck and their back.

"I did it for the Achilles and didn't think for one minute that it was going to be something that I really enjoyed. Out here on the South Downs, this is now training - this is work. Having spent 12 years in a horrible gym beating out the treadmill or doing power-cleans, I'd rather be here now to be honest!

"The one thing that took me by surprise was the escapism. You are out here with a lot of time to yourself with no mobile phones and no worrying about cricket. You get back having gone for a couple of hours' ride and you do feel very good about yourself and like you've had a couple of hours away.

"I still do a lot of power work in the gym, leg weights - that sort of stuff - but the cycling certainly helps [my wicketkeeping] because primarily you are just using your legs and the most important thing is that you are in the position that you would be as a wicketkeeper."

Ability

Prior, dropped from the Test team after a poor tour of Sri Lanka at the end of 2007, has become in the eyes of some the best wicketkeeper-batsman in the world under the guidance of Bruce French, England's wicketkeeping coach.

However he insists that neither he nor England, who lost their status as the world's best Test side to South Africa last summer, are looking beyond the upcoming two-match series against New Zealand despite the looming prospect of back-to-back Ashes series.

Prior's caution is plausible after this winter's 0-0 draw with New Zealand in which Prior contributed an unbeaten 110 to an improbable fifth-day rear-guard in Auckland that denied the home side victory.

The memory of England's fourth Test capitulation to Australia in the fourth Ashes Test of 2009 - a match the tourists won by an innings and 80 runs - remains a persistent deterrent.

"In 2009 we got a bit ahead of ourselves in an Ashes series at Headingley and suddenly we were bowled out for 120 and it was 1-1 going into the final Test and we were up against it again.

"We made that decision that day, I remember, saying that we are never going to look too far again because it is so dangerous.

"Of course everyone is excited about the Ashes and wants to talk about them but as a playing unit we can't afford to do that.

"Our complete focus is this Test series against New Zealand and from an individual point of view my complete focus is Lord's and making sure I perform to the best of my ability and the team's ability in that one game.

"Once we've taken care of that then we can look at the second Test but we are not looking any further ahead than that."

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

W

hy is the dinosaur trying to hold on to this.... Just leave... No one wants you in this position you corrupt loser. Let someone else take over....

arsenal121
Defiant Sepp blames minority

N

ow is the time for Allardyce to finally get a chance at a big club please. He is likely to have a number of great offers for his services this summer, but who will he choose? Will it be Liverpool, Real Madrid, Dortmund or Man City?

medina_sod
Allardyce leaves West Ham

I

thought exactly this when the Match of the Day pundits were peddling this line. Is it really not okay for fans of a club to have some ambition these days then?

damoceltic
Bored Of Big Sam? It's Your Right...

Footer 365

D-day for FIFA as Sepp Blatter opens 65th congress

Sepp Blatter has formally opened FIFA's congress on a day his critics hope could signal a new start for football.

FA chairman Greg Dyke calls for possible Russia 2018 boycott

FA chairman Greg Dyke wants UEFA nations to consider pulling out of the World Cup finals in Russia in three years' time.

Sepp Blatter vs Prince Ali: FIFA election explained

Will Sepp Blatter see off Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein? We explain how Friday's presidential vote works...

Mail Box

What Would You Do If You Were Blatter?

Step into Sepp's shoes, is the invitation from one mailboxer. Also: United already have their new number one, Rodgers deserves time, and the best Budget XI so far...

What Is It That FIFA Actually Do?

That's the question raised timidly by someone sat at the back of the room, whilst others remind that UEFA aren't perfect either. Plus a few more gone on to better XIs...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company