HE MAY not grab the headlines like Alec Stewart or Adam Gilchrist did, but we mustn’t underestimate the contribution Matt Prior has made to England’s success.
Not just a wicketkeeper but also a genuine batsman, Prior is a major cog in this squad’s wheel. I am a huge fan of his and in all of Test cricket only MS Dhoni can hold a candle to him in that position.
That is why talk of him missing the first Ashes Test – the most important match in the series – should concern every England fan.
Jonny Bairstow is donning the gloves for the final warm-up match against a Cricket Australia Invitational XI, which started last night in Sydney, and I can understand that, but I’m not sure he’s up to the job in a Test.
I hope that the fact England have not yet called up a replacement for Prior is an indication his calf tear is likely to heal in time to play in Brisbane, because if it isn’t then the selectors must surely issue an SOS.
My other concern is over the lack of practice England have accumulated in Australian conditions.
Being pragmatic, there is nothing they can do, and the good thing is that all batsmen bar Kevin Pietersen have had decent time in the middle and got runs. Among the bowlers, James Anderson is almost robotic in his efficiency, Stuart Broad seems to be over his side injury and everyone is full of confidence.
Andy Lloyd is a former England Test cricketer who has also been captain and chairman of Warwickshire.