Peter Moores, the England coach, has admitted to concerns over whether Matt Prior will be able to remain fit enough to take on Test-match wicketkeeping duties throughout this summer.
Prior has not kept wicket since being dropped from the Test side in mid-December. He played in Sussex’s opening Championship game against Middlesex as a batsman only and has sat out the county’s last two matches to undergo further treatment, including an injection, on his troublesome Achilles.
Despite being discarded by England after making four single-figure scores in six innings in the first three Tests of the winter Ashes, he is favourite to reclaim the keeper’s spot from Jonny Bairstow for the first Test of this summer against Sri Lanka at Lord’s next month – if fit.
He remains the best candidate, and the century he made in difficult circumstances against a strong Middlesex attack at Hove was a noticeable statement of intent.
Prior could return to the Sussex side for tomorrow’s game against Lancashire but again only as a batsman. England’s medical team, who are overseeing his treatment, have targeted the four-day game against Durham starting a week tomorrow for him to keep wicket for the first time this season. How Prior reacts to that will be closely observed by Moores and his medics.
The England players have been screened at Loughborough to check for any injury issues, or “red flags” as Moores puts it. The new England coach described Prior’s condition as being “amber”. The immediate focus is the limited-overs matches against Sri Lanka starting on 20 May but Prior would not be involved in those, and the first Test does not begin until 12 June.
“It’s a concern because he has played a game and his Achilles has flared up so it’s obviously something we want to be careful with,” said Moores. “He’s on a break now, [we must] make sure when he comes back and plays it doesn’t flare up again. It’s definitely a concern.
“You speak to Matt and he’s had it before, it’s niggled away a bit but he’s very good at managing it. The management of it is the key. Speaking to the medics, they seem really confident with Matt they can get that under control.
“He has started to do some work on it. They are upping his volume to see where he is at.”