England intend to avoid sledging during the Ashes

Click to follow
The Independent Online

England intend to avoid sledging tactics and let their cricketing ability do the talking for them in the Ashes this winter.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior insists that if sledging is to have any prevalence between them and Australia over the next three months, it will be at the home team's behest.

Prior's twin role either side of the stumps is sure to mean he finds himself regularly in the thick of the battle to retain the urn.

He believes it is up to each batsman to work out how best to deal with any pointed remarks which may come their way but makes it clear there is no intention on England's part to engage in verbal warfare.

"It's a very individual thing, hugely so, certainly from a batsman's point of view," he said.

"Everyone has a different way of responding to it. That's for you to work out yourself."

With the ball in their hands, England believe catches held and runs stopped are far more effective in stifling the opposition than any unwarranted remarks.

"When we're in the field, I don't think sledging will be something we're going to go into any Test match looking to do.

"It's not something we concentrate on, or something we will focus on at all.

"We will focus on building intensity through our skills, bowling and fielding well and taking our catches and creating a natural energy by buzzing around.

"I don't think we need to say too much or get into a war of words with anyone."

There has been plenty of instructive chat already, though, between those in the England squad - like Prior - on their first full tour to Australia, and those who have been there before.

Those previous experiences brought no success, notably in the 5-0 whitewash here at England's last attempt four years ago, but Prior senses they could be about to bear fruit instead for this campaign.

"It's no different wherever you tour - Australia, India, South Africa - you pull on the guys who have been there most and are the most experienced in the conditions. You'd be silly not to," he said.

"Coming into new conditions, you have to adapt as quickly as you can.

"One of the ways of doing that is by pulling on experienced players to find out what they went through and how they changed the way they play, if they needed to."

Prior is heartened by his first impressions of how to ply his trade Down Under.

"I'm a bit nervous saying this. But Australia for a wicketkeeper is quite a nice place to come," he added.

"Obviously there is carry on the wickets, and you stand a fair distance back. Then the main thing that is different to England is there is not that wobble you may get with the Dukes ball - especially at places like Lord's and Headingley, where it can make you look silly at times.

"But it still offers the same challenges; you have to get used to the heat again and make sure you're fit enough to give the energy you want as a wicketkeeper and the engine room of the fielding side."

Prior reports too that England are operating on the principle that it is just as important what they do off the field as on it.

"Over the last 18 months, two years, this team has worked in a different way; we've worked very, very hard on the training ground and used that ethic of 'prepare hard, play easy'.

"When we're in our hotel we're pretty relaxed - no one is looking too uptight. But on the training ground and in the nets, that's the time to turn it on.

"That's when you can see the intensity turn up.

"You get confidence from your preparation, and we'll certainly leave no stone unturned making sure we're ready to go for that first Test match."

There will be no hint of hanging on to the Ashes either.

Prior spelled out England's aim is not to merely retain the run, but to win it outright all over again.

"Any series you go into you want to win. It's a dangerous thing to go into a series looking to draw it. That is certainly not the attitude we've come with," he said.

"We want to win this series, and win it well."

He thinks it will prove an advantage for England to begin their campaign in Perth this week, a venue once renowned as by far the quickest pitch in the world and still naturally associated with pace and bounce.

The tourists have their first taste of those conditions against Western Australia on Friday, and will return for the third Test just before Christmas.

"In those nets, it's something very different to what you get in England," Prior confirmed.

"From what I've heard, this is pretty much as extreme as you're going to get in terms of pace and bounce.

"I think to be thrown in the deep end is good. If you get thrown in the deep end and work backwards, it's easier than suddenly getting a shock later on."