If KP does call it quits, no man is bigger than the team, says Prior

 

Headingley

While Matt Prior's innings yesterday morning will for ever be overshadowed by Kevin Pietersen's Saturday afternoon masterclass it was, in its own right, just as important to England's prospects of recapturing their killer instinct.

His bustling, selfless knock of 68 from 89 balls summed up why the Sussex wicketkeeper-batsman has firmly established himself as such a highly valued member of the England dressing room.

When Pietersen departed to the second ball of Morne Morkel's opening over of the day, much to the collective disappointment of the Headingley crowd, England's momentum could so easily have juddered to a halt.

But, just as he has done countless times in the past, Prior took personal responsibility for injecting urgency into the innings by running furiously between the wickets and punishing anything loose.

His 21st Test fifty allowed England to forge a small first-innings lead when they could so easily have folded following Pietersen's dismissal for 149 as he scored 48 of England's last 74 runs. It was typical Prior.

While some may gripe at the manner of his dismissal, top-edging a sweep from a delivery bowled into the rough by leg-spinner Imran Tahir for the second time in the series, Prior will argue with some justification that he was putting the team ahead of himself.

While Pietersen happily allowed debutant James Taylor to take the last four balls of Tahir's over before tea on day three, Prior didn't hesitate in scuttling back for a second when he could so easily have jogged his first run to see out the final over of the evening session. But it isn't in his nature to put himself before the interests of the team.

That is his great value and why he is so highly thought of by his team-mates and by the England management.

At the press conference last night, Prior was asked repeatedly about Pietersen's ongoing feud with the ECB and the possibility that he may even make himself unavailable for Test cricket, or be denied a central contract, following his recent decision to retire from one-day international cricket.

Despite all the focus being on his higher-profile team-mate, Prior's responses were considered and honest.

"Kev will do what Kev wants to do and it's up to him to do it," Prior said. "When you watch a bloke bat like that you'd want him in your team. Why wouldn't you? But the very special thing about this England team is that it is a team. There is no one person who has done more than anyone else and that is a very, very strong thing.

"To have 11 blokes pulling in one direction is a very powerful thing. That, by the way, is not me saying Kev has not been part of that 11, he's been a big part of that 11.

"But what I am saying is that while it would be a loss, a huge loss, what is important for this team is that whoever is the bloke who takes his place, all 11 of us need to pull in the same direction.

"That's what makes this England team a good team."

Prior's responses were not forced, because his team ethic is deeply ingrained to an extent that Pietersen may struggle to comprehend, but they did reveal a surprising level of acceptance that England's highest-profile player may yet turn his back on international cricket.

For Prior, forever the team man, it would be a blow which the collective cause could absorb.

"No one knows what Kev is going to do, I don't think Kev knows what he's going to do," he added.

"It has no bearing on the outcome of this Test match or the series. All we can think about is what makes this team brilliant, which is having 11 guys pulling in one direction.

"Kevin is one person and we need to regroup and come back hard to win this Test match."

It was typical Prior.

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
peopleReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
peopleThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker