Prior bins pads to cool down in warm-up

ENGLAND wicketkeeper Matt Prior is considering playing without pads in the upcoming Test series against Sri Lanka after a successful experiment in yesterday’s second tour match.

Prior, who top-scored with a speedy 84 as the tourists successfully chased 359 to beat a Sri Lankan Development XI by four wickets yesterday, went bare-legged behind the stumps in an attempt to combat stifling heat.

With humidity nudging 80 per cent in Colombo, Prior (right) was so happy with the improvement that he is ready to discard his pads or settle for lightweight shin-guards only when the first Test starts on Monday.

“It’s pretty warm here and every little helps. These are extreme conditions, with the heat and humidity, so when you’re trying to keep your energy up and run around I found it made a difference,” he said.

“It’s not something I’d rule out in England or anywhere else in the world. The game is moving and it’s changing.

“It would be silly just to think: ‘keepers have always worn pads’. You have to adapt.

“You don’t need a great deal of protection. I don’t think there’s any law on keepers wearing pads.”

England’s batsmen revelled in the chance for some final practice before the two-Test series, once the hosts had declared on 199-4 at lunch, with Prior one of four to score half-centuries.

All-rounder Samit Patel plundered 72, Ravi Bopara, who suffered a side strain, hit 66 and Kevin Pietersen 52 off as many balls, but there was no respite for out-of-sorts Ian Bell, who fell for just 11.

Bell was bumped up the order to opener in an attempt to cure a malaise which saw him dismissed for a two-ball duck in Saturday’s first tour match and manage no higher than 29 in six innings against Pakistan earlier this year.

His form remains a worry, while England chiefs said Bopara was unlikely to bowl in either Test following his injury.

Spinner Graeme Swann wrapped up victory in emphatic fashion, with three successive boundaries in a 12-ball knock of 31 not out.