England counting on Matt Prior experience as Test series gets underway
Thursday 12 June 2014
England have been careful to ensure Alastair Cook is surrounded by experience as well as new blood for the first Investec Test against Sri Lanka at Lord's.
Matt Prior perhaps owes his recall to that intent, back as wicketkeeper-batsman and senior player - if not vice-captain - after being dropped during England's Ashes whitewash last winter.
At 32, Prior is preferred to the fast-tracking of Jos Buttler's Test career - and Cook appears reassured to have such a familiar presence alongside him at a time when England seem set, for the second successive Test, to introduce three debutants.
Asked why Prior got the nod ahead of 23-year-old Buttler, Cook said: "For his long-term record as an England cricketer.
"I think he's played almost 80 games - that's a wealth of experience in a side which is changing."
England have satisfied themselves Prior is fit after the Achilles injury which severely curtailed the start of his summer, but have made the opposite call on the readiness of emerging all-rounder Ben Stokes - who broke his wrist three months ago and has also only just returned to first-class cricket.
Cook added of Prior: "He's a proven international - whereas Ben Stokes isn't quite there yet, in our eyes anyway.
"Matt is a senior guy who knows his game.
"We've been in constant communication over his fitness to make sure he's 100 per cent right, and he is.
"He should be very proud of his record. It's outstanding, and he has a lot more to offer. We should support that."
Others have yet to prove themselves, and Cook acknowledges no easy task faces prospective debutants Sam Robson - set to open the batting alongside his captain - Moeen Ali and Chris Jordan.
"It's a step up in standard from county cricket, and it's a different game," he said.
"I was talking to Ian Bell about it the other day, and he said he didn't really feel comfortable until he'd played 40 games.
"I think that can lead to a bit of inconsistency at the start, and a lot of the senior guys have had their ups and downs until they've got to where they are now."
That does not preclude a successful start, as Cook knows from his own experience and that of Prior - both made centuries on debut.
"There are also a number of guys who've had amazing starts to their careers, with hundreds and 'five-fors' on debuts," he said.
"Sometimes when you go into the unknown, the opposition don't know anything about you."
For Liam Plunkett, it is a possible new beginning that is in the offing - if he is chosen for his 10th Test, seven years after his last.
The seam bowler has been a dramatically resurgent force since his move from Durham to Yorkshire at the start of last summer.
"He just needed something to spark him," said Cook.
"When you've been at a county so long, sometimes people just see what you can't do rather than what you can do."
Manchester United can learn lessons from the transfer template of rivals Manchester City
Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea top the list of the Premier League's most expensive squads
Harry Kane: Tottenham striker confident of rediscovering goal-scoring form after chat with Alan Shearer
Cyprus vs Wales match report: Gareth Bale's bullet header has Welsh on brink of Euro 2016
Anthony Martial: Manchester United's new signing received Patrice Evra's boots as a kid
- 1 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
- 2 President Obama comments on Humans of New York photo from Iran
- 4 The Chinese city where men have 'three girlfriends because there are so many women'
- 5 German police forced to ask public to stop bringing donations for refugees arriving by train
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 200,000 back our campaign
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up