Ashes 2013-14: England wicketkeeper Matt Prior blames series whitewash on a lack of professionalism

Poor environment in the dressing room could explain the embarrassing 5-0 defeat to Australia, says Prior

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The Independent Online

England wicketkeeper Matt Prior has blamed a lack of professionalism for England's 5-0 Ashes whitewash.

In a frank assessment of performances Down Under, Prior - who was dropped after the third Test - suggested the players may have shown a lack of respect for captain Alastair Cook and team director Andy Flower after allowing standards to slip.

The 31-year-old, writing in his Daily Telegraph column, pinpointed problems such as turning up late for meetings and wearing the wrong uniform as reflective of a bigger issue.

And while he conceded Australia's performances dictated that they were deserving winners, he believes England contributed to their own downfall.

"There are obvious straightforward cricketing reasons why we lost the Ashes in Australia but when assessing this defeat you have to look deeper," Prior wrote.

"It all goes back to the dressing room and making sure that environment is right and on this tour I think we let it slip a bit.

"We let a few things slide. They appear trivial issues to those on the outside but they are important when building a team environment.

"Little things like wearing the right kit, turning up to meetings on time, not five minutes late. It is about the respect you have for your team-mates, coach and captain."

In the light of the recent reports over Flower and Kevin Pietersen's uneasy working relationship, Prior's comments are another eye-opening criticism of how events unfolded Down Under.

Prior has backed Flower and Cook - as well as under-fire batting coach Graham Gooch - to lead England into a new phase.

Whether Prior himself will be a part of that remains up in the air after he was left out for the final two matches following a run of poor form that dated back to the summer's 3-0 Ashes success.

Prior was damning of his own performances in Australia and described his missed stumping in Perth against David Warner, who went on to score a century, off the bowling of Graeme Swann as one of the lowest points of his career.

"My keeping had been outstanding until that terrible moment," he said. "It was as bad a moment as I have ever experienced on a cricket pitch.

"I stood there knowing that Swanny was struggling a little bit and I had let him down."

England's problems have not gone unnoticed in the Australia dressing room, although it is an issue coach Darren Lehmann is not about to delve into.

While Lehmann has been credited with fostering the contented environment that saw Australia turn around their fortunes so significantly this winter, England have dissolved into crisis.

"I'm not going there to be perfectly honest," Lehmann said. "That's for them to work out.

"We've got enough to worry about getting ready for a one-day series here and then a Twenty20 series - the World Cup is a focus as well.

"The England team have got decisions to make. They'll make them I'm sure."

Lehmann also paid credit to Prior after the wicketkeeper helped to save a man's life before he flew home from Sydney on Tuesday night.

Prior and team-mates Stuart Broad were returning to their hotel from a function when they helped rescue a man from jumping from the Pyrmont Bridge in Darling Harbour.

The man had reportedly thrown his shoes, wallet and passport into the water with Prior describing him as "in a bad way".

"I thank them. It's a fantastic thing to do," Lehmann said. "To save someone's life is pretty special."

Lehmann was speaking ahead of the first one-day international in Melbourne on Sunday, when Ashes man of the series Mitchell Johnson will be rested.

That news will come as welcome relief to England - who arrived in Melbourne on Thursday - after Johnson took 37 wickets in the five-Test series.

"It's obviously been a very big summer for him," Lehmann said. "So we'll just give him a short little break and make sure he's getting fresh for the other one-dayers.

"It's important that we put the best side that we possibly can out, but understanding that it's been a hectic five Test matches.

"Some of the Test boys especially are weary."

Lehmann confirmed that Johnson would return for the second ODI in Brisbane on January 17.