Prior ready to kick-start tour
England moved from Dubai to Abu Dhabi this morning, confident they have got a regrettable “false start” to their Test series against Pakistan out of their system.
The majority of Andrew Strauss’ team also welcomed wives and girlfriends to the United Arab Emirates today, having left them behind for the first three weeks on tour.
There was an optimism about the camp therefore, despite their 10-wicket defeat at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, as they prepared for the two-hour road trip to their base for this week’s second Test.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior acknowledged he and his team-mates must get fully up to speed as soon as possible, having previously played no Test cricket since last August.
“You can spend as much time in the gym and as much time in the nets or on the training ground - but until you’re out in the middle, you don’t get that ring-ready feeling,” he said.
“It’s getting used to little things - the nerves, travelling into the ground. I felt, in that first innings, I had to get used to switching on and off again.”
England are nonetheless thankful for the essential time off allowed by a hectic international schedule, which will become ever more so from now on over the next three years.
“Having a two or three-month break was invaluable. It was needed,” Prior added.
“It was necessary but obviously it is then tough to come back in and be ready.”
World Test number ones England are 1-0 down with two to play, and consequently have a tough task on their hands against fast-improving and in-form opponents.
But Prior reports they are definitely ready for what lies ahead.
“We’re a proud team. We’re a proud bunch of players,” he said.
“We’re used to walking off the pitch, having inflicted the sort of defeat they inflicted upon us - so it was a very bitter pill to swallow.
“No one in this team enjoyed it one little bit. It’s taken a few days to get over it, but now there is a steely determination that it will not happen again. We’re looking forward to the next game in Abu Dhabi.”
Saeed Ajmal claimed a career-best 7-55 in England’s first innings and, although the spinner is a major threat, Prior is also wary of Pakistan’s other bowling options.
“The obvious thing is how we play spin and how we play Saeed Ajmal,” he said. “But it’s important we don’t get caught up with just one bloke.
“Umar Gul came in and took wickets in the second innings, so we just need to improve [our general game], really.”
Prior is adamant if England’s batsmen can apply themselves in the unfamiliar conditions, then there is no reason why they can't bounce back.
“You expect to come over here and find it very flat and not a great deal in it for the bowlers,” said Prior, who hit an unbeaten first-innings 70 in Dubai.
“But the seamers got a bit of bounce and a bit of movement, and if you batted well and played good shots you got value for your runs.
“The pitch isn’t one of the reasons that we lost. We’re behind the eight ball now - we have to play good enough cricket to force results in these last two matches.”