Flower lauds 'combative' Prior
England team director Andy Flower has cited Matt Prior’s aggressive approach as the main reason for his recall ahead of the World Cup.
Prior, 28, had been in the wilderness in the shorter forms of the international game, having not played since last March.
However, he will travel to the sub-continent for the flagship tournament after being picked ahead of Steven Davies, who made 42 in the opening game of the Commonwealth Bank series against Australia on Saturday.
That decision comes on the back of a sensational Ashes campaign for Prior, who scored 252 runs at 50.40 and excelled behind the stumps.
The Sussex man has since been representing Victoria in the Big Bash, Australia’s domestic Twenty20 competition.
England, meanwhile, currently find themselves 1-0 down in the ongoing one-day series with six games still to play.
Flower revealed that Prior will return to the fold to tackle Australia again as he looks to prepare for the World Cup.
“Matt Prior did very well out here in the Test matches - he is a combative, aggressive cricketer and he fits our aggressive fielding unit, which is one of the reasons he has been picked,” said Flower.
“We’ve played three wicketkeepers in our limited-overs team over the last two years and we believe Matt Prior is best suited to the conditions in the sub-continent.
“We want Prior to get a few games under his belt before we get out there so he is going to be arriving in Hobart tonight.”
Some will deem Prior’s inclusion as harsh on Surrey man Davies, who has hit 239 runs at a healthy average of 39.83 since returning to the team in the summer.
But Flower believes the right decision has been made given the sub-continental conditions facing his troops.
“It was a difficult decision because we always knew that the timing was going to be tricky - being one game into a seven-match series isn’t ideal,” added Flower.
“Steven Davies was picked in our last one-day series in England and he did okay against Pakistan.
“Meanwhile, we picked him for this series in Australia because of the conditions but as we get closer to the World Cup, we have made that adjustment.”
There was also a place in the squad for seamer Ajmal Shahzad, whose ability to find reverse-swing has caught Flower's eye.
“Shahzad was quite impressive in the last game we played - in Melbourne," said Flower.
“He has been in and around our squad for a while now and is getting tastes of international cricket although he hasn’t secured a spot yet.
“We think he shows a lot of potential - he can reverse-swing the ball which will be important in the sub-continent and he is a good competitor.”
Flower also underlined the importance of spin in the tournament after England opted to pick James Tredwell, as well as Graeme Swann and Michael Yardy.
“Spin is going to be very important in the sub-continent so we wanted to make sure we not only have two specialist spinners, but a third as well,” said Flower.
The task facing England, who are aiming to cap a historic period by adding the World Cup to their World Twenty20 and Ashes successes, is arguably their most difficult given the conditions awaiting them in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Flower is all too aware of the challenge, but believes the 15-man squad is capable of pulling off an unprecedented victory.
“It’s going to be very tough to win the World Cup - all nations will be desperate to do just that,” he said.
“But I think our one-day cricket has improved significantly over the last few years and I believe we can do well out there.”