Hit the ground running, keeper Prior tells England ahead of Ashes warm-up

ENGLAND wicketkeeper Matt Prior has underlined the importance of building momentum for the Ashes by winning their opening tour match against Western Australia.

The three-day contest in Perth, which starts tomorrow morning, is the first of a trio of warm-up games before England begin their defence of the urn later this month.

“Winning is a habit and the quicker you can get into that habit the better,” said Prior. “First and foremost, we want to win the game. It’s dangerous to go down the line of a warm-up or practice match. It is a first-class game, and we’ll take it very seriously.”

Australia, meanwhile, are in dire need of a morale-boosting win, after slumping to a sixth consecutive defeat in all formats yesterday.

Sri Lanka were the victors, beating the hosts by one wicket in the first one-day international in Melbourne after a record-breaking ninth-wicket stand. The tourists, chasing a target of 240, looked doomed on 107-8 before all-rounder Angelo Matthews (77 not out) and paceman Lasith Malinga (56) notched 132. Muttiah Muralitharan hit the winning runs.

Aussie debutant Xavier Doherty earlier looked to have stolen the show with four wickets and a run-out, only for Sri Lanka’s remarkable resurgence to condemn stand-in captain Michael Clarke to yet another defeat.

“All the boys are disappointed,” said Clarke, deputising for Ricky Ponting, who was on compassionate leave. “We can’t seem to turn the corner and get over the winning line.”

Spinner Graeme Swann is England’s only slight injury doubt for the match against Western Australia.