Prior not underestimating Windies
Matt Prior is adamant there will be no room for complacency as England set out to restate their credentials as Test cricket’s number one team, against West Indies at Lord’s.
A tougher examination of England’s claim on top spot appears to lie in wait later this summer, in the shape of South Africa - currently their closest pursuers in the International Cricket Council rankings.
West Indies languish down at seventh in the rankings and are perceived to be a team with a useful attack but much to prove with the bat - world number one Shivnarine Chanderpaul apart.
After England’s tough winter in the Middle East and Sri Lanka, however, wicketkeeper Prior warns England must be on their game from the outset of a three-match series which gets under way on Thursday.
“This is a very tough series in its own right,” he said.
“I think if you get complacent or take things easy in Test cricket, or international sport in general, you get bitten pretty quickly. There’s no room for that in our dressing room.”
Prior himself is returning to the scene, and against the same opponents, of his own century on Test debut five years ago.
“It’s fantastic to be back at Lord’s. It’s always a magical place to come,” he added. “This first series of the summer will be a tough prospect.
“We had a tricky winter. But we came out on top in Colombo - which was a fantastic effort - and we’re back in our home conditions now. The challenges we faced in the winter - spin on the sub-continent - are less likely here.
“It was obviously a tough winter. But that win [to level the series in Sri Lanka] was crucial - to come out with that win just set us off on the right road going into the summer, and gave us a lot of confidence.
“We have learned lessons, and we are going forward. We are a good team, but we do still have some huge improvements to make.
“It’s very important we look forward. We’ve performed very well over the last couple of years with bat and ball, and I see no reason why we shouldn’t continue that.”
Prior is likely to have to move back down to number seven this week, having batted at six in Sri Lanka, if Yorkshire’s Jonny Bairstow is handed his Test debut.
“It’s fantastic Jonny’s come in. If he gets his opportunity this week I hope he takes it,” he said.
“As I’ve said many times before, whether I’m batting six or seven makes no odds to me as long as we get the balance of the team right and end up getting a win.”