Lows keep Prior's feet on the ground
Matt Prior says England’s Ashes win feels sweeter when he remembers some of the lower moments of his career.
Prior has been one of many stand-out performers during a remarkable series, which has seen the tourists shatter records aplenty en route to becoming the first England side to win the Ashes Down Under for 24 years.
However, it has not always been such plain sailing for Andrew Strauss' team and, indeed, their wicketkeeper.
After a poor series in Sri Lanka in 2007, doubts over Prior’s ability to keep wicket saw him replaced in the team by Tim Ambrose for the tour to New Zealand before failing to reclaim the gloves in the summer.
Indeed, it took the Sussex man a year to return the side, but he has hardly looked back since.
His batting continues to thrive at the highest level - he reached a maiden Ashes hundred yesterday - but it is the improvement in his keeping which has been remarkable.
After after working tirelessly with Bruce French, England’s wicketkeeping consultant, Prior has emerged as one of the leading glovemen in the world game, illustrated best in this series with near flawless displays behind the stumps.
Combine that with a batting average over 50, as well as his infectious positive energy in the field, and it is hard to overstate his influence on the series.
The 28-year-old was understandably delighted with the final outcome, a 3-1 win for England - especially given the bad times that preceded it.
“It doesn’t get any better than this,” he told ecb.co.uk/video. “It’s the highlight of my career and undoubtedly the best couple of days in my cricketing life - it is just phenomenal.
“To be sat here now in the pavilion of the SCG with all the great players that have been here and the great Ashes memories is very special.
“My career has been a massive journey, though, and it’s not just been highs - there have been a few lows as well.
“But I think it’s the lows that make this so special - if this happened every day, it wouldn’t feel the same.
“It’s the work that you put in, the hard times that you have been through that make this so special for every single person in the dressing room.”
It is not just the on-field achievements, such as England becoming the only team to claim three innings victories in a series in Australia, that this tour will be remembered for.
Off the field, the tourists have been a breath of fresh air; earning an equal number of plaudits for their ability to create a harmonious dressing room by mixing hard work with fun.
Those are just small illustrations of the “tight unit”, which Prior believes has been so pivotal.
“I am so proud to be part of this England team - it’s a fantastic team,” he added.
“The performances on the pitch have been phenomenal; bowlers, batsman, fielders, but it’s the team unit and the way the guys have been in the dressing room - that’s the thing I’ll treasure for as long as I live.
“The backroom staff have been brilliant as well. If they weren’t here, we would not have done what we have today - I’m absolutely certain of that.
“Touring Australia, you have to be a tight unit - it’s a tough place to tour; everyone is absolutely shattered.
“Amongst everything else, it’s been a great laugh - great fun the whole way through.”