Matt Prior: One great win does not make a series – remember Durban
Thursday 09 December 2010
This is danger time for us. One ahead in the Ashes series with a magnificent all-round performance dominating the Adelaide Test from first to last, and there is not a member of our team that you wouldn't want in your team at present.
It's very easy to do a lot of back-patting now. But this is where England have sometimes stumbled in the past, become a bit complacent. We had a great innings win in Durban late last year against South Africa but we did not carry it on to the next match. We must guard against that complacency.
When we get to Perth we have to hit that first session as we did at The Gabba and in Adelaide, to make sure we get that first punch in. It doesn't come from just a few days of hard work. The amount of effort that goes into winning every Test is colossal and we have to make sure we do it again and again. But if you're not going to do it now in an Ashes series in Australia when you're 1-0 up then you're in the wrong game.
The win at Adelaide was, of course, extremely special. When we lost the toss on a pretty good batting wicket for one split second you think "ah damn, could have really done with batting". But you have to get on with it and stick with your plan.
The bowlers set out to stop them scoring runs. It's going to be a holding day. We might not bowl them out, we might knock over six or seven wickets but as long as they don't go anywhere for the day and we restrict them to 250 to 280 then we've had a good day. That was the strategy but then there was a wonderful piece of fielding from Jonathan Trott which set the tone. Trotty isn't necessarily one of the stand-out fielders but he has been fantastic and that direct hit shows the value of hard work.
There followed wickets for Jimmy Anderson in a wonderful new-ball spell. The dismissal of Ricky Ponting was crucial and it came after a startling bit of insight. As Jimmy was running in Andrew Strauss actually said "let's take it on a bit because it might not carry".
So we stepped a yard forward and immediately Graeme Swann took a smart catch low to his left. It highlights the work we have put in on the training ground and in the gym. A lot has been said about the size of our backroom staff but if you want people to perform at a certain level you need people to be thorough and precise, people in those roles who are looking specifically at low catches or hitting the stumps because those fine margins can be crucial. We know how hard Simon Katich is to get out and if Trotty had missed that, you just don't know what might happen.
Stuart Broad is going to be a big loss. He is my biggest mate in this team and I'm absolutely gutted for him. The way he has been bowling has been fantastic. He has hit the gloves hard, he has been bowling in difficult areas, he has really been the bowler who has put the batsmen under a lot of pressure.
He would have bowled worse in the past and taken a lot more wickets. The shame is he was probably an innings away from taking a bundle. But bowlers work in partnerships and I do believe the performances he has put in have allowed others to get wickets. He has hit a great length. The wickets have suited him from the very first session when we knew that he was going to be handful.
But we have to get on with it. The three fast bowlers in reserve are all more than capable of doing a very good job and any one of them could have been in the starting team. I don't know who they'll go with but they're all effective in their own right.
Some of you may have noticed that I'm wearing a beard. I don't think many keepers have had beards in the past but it's staying now until at least the end of the Ashes. I'm a bit of a lazy shaver and I grew it when we had a bit of time off early in the tour. I suppose it's there as a bit of a distraction from what's not on top.
Matt Prior supports NatWest CricketForce, the largest volunteering initiative in UK sport, and registrations are now open for 2011. For more info, visit www.natwest.com/cricket and sign up to this month's bulletin.
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