Matt Prior: A World Cup win would mean as much as the Ashes
I still feel I could do a good job at the top of the order. But I reckon that, in the subcontinent, batting in the middle order suits my game
Tuesday 22 February 2011
We should be getting used to all the hype, all the talking and all the theorising after what we experienced in the days leading up to the start of the Ashes series. But now, as then, it will still be a big relief to get out in the middle and start playing for real.
It was only a week or so ago that we arrived in the sub-continent for this World Cup and yet all of us are delighted that today is the day we can get our tournament under way with a match against the Netherlands in Nagpur.
Unless you have been to this part of the world it is hard to appreciate just how much cricket means to people over here. Everywhere you go, whoever you speak to, it is the only topic of conversation – and, clearly, the three hosts (India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh) have put a great deal of work into trying to make the event a huge success.
I've watched a fair bit of the early games on TV and it is handy to see what tactics teams are using. As far as we are concerned, though, it is what happens on the field in our games that matters most and, at the end of yesterday's practice session and on the eve of the match against the Dutch, everyone in the camp felt ready and raring to go.
A lot has been said and written about our build-up: losing the one-day series in Australia 6-1, being hit by quite a few injuries and then having only a few days at home before flying out here.
Yes, it has taken a bit of time to get the team right and settled for 50-over cricket. But now, with new dad Graeme Swann back on board and everyone here apart from the unlucky Eoin Morgan, we feel we are where we want to be in terms of readiness. And in that regard, our warm-up game against Pakistan last Friday was huge for us.
The timing of that game, and the timing of that performance, was ideal because we played the brand of cricket we want to play and came out of it with a lot of confidence.
People often ask how playing in the World Cup compares with playing in the Ashes. It is difficult to answer because the cricket is different and here we are up against a lot of teams, rather than just one. But what I can tell you is that the excitement factor is just the same.
The Ashes were obviously very special but so is this. If we had gone to Australia and come home empty-handed it would have been a very disappointing winter. And while it is great simply to be involved in a World Cup, the feeling is the same: we want to win it. Doing that would be right up there with winning the Ashes.
I suppose if anything I'm even more excited than most because a month or so ago I didn't think I was going to be at this World Cup. Anyway, I'm thrilled to be back in the team and now I want to prove I'm England's No 1 keeper-batsman in one-day cricket as well as Tests. That's my goal and the way I can do it is by putting runs on the board when they are needed, keeping wicket as well as possible and leading the team in the field with plenty of energy and encouragement.
As everyone knows, I'm sure, I have been given the job of batting at No 6. Eoin's broken finger left a hole in the middle order so I guess putting me there became quite an obvious decision.
Don't get me wrong, if I get the chance to open again at some stage in the future I would do it because I still feel I could do a good job at the top of the order. But I reckon that, in the subcontinent, batting in the middle order suits my game. There is a lot of spin to face and you need to try to work the ball around and keep the run rate up.
But it's all very well talking about it – what counts is going out there and doing it. And that applies to all of us.
Matt Prior supports NatWest CricketForce, the largest volunteering initiative in UK sport. This year NatWest CricketForce takes place April 8-10 and registrations are now open. For more info, visit www.natwest.com/cricket and sign up to this month's bulletin.
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