Cricket Expert & Columnist
Ashes 2013/14: Dropped Matt Prior must regain confidence before England can pick him again
Selectors could have stuck with Sussex man but decided he was 'frazzled'...
Last Updated: 26/12/13 10:56am
Prior was omitted for the fourth Ashes Test after a poor run of form with the bat and gloves in Australia, averaging 17.83 runs and twice missing stumping chances offered by David Warner in the third Test, at Perth.
The 31-year-old - who became the first wicketkeeper to be named England's Player of the Year in May - was replaced by Jonny Bairstow at the MCG, while Monty Panesar came into the side for the retired Graeme Swann.
Strauss told the Sky Sports Ashes Podcast that although he would have kept faith with Prior, he can understand why England's selectors decided to take action.
"I thought it was a big call, actually, because Matt Prior has been so good for England over a long period of time," said the former England captain, who skippered Prior in the successful Ashes campaigns of 2009 and 2010/11.
"He's obviously had a bit of an elongated period of poor form but I would have liked to have seen him get two more games, just to see where he's at.
"But I think the England management have had a look at him and thought 'he's a bit frazzled at the moment, he needs to be taken out of the firing line'. I think even Alastair Cook said that at the toss.
"That gives Jonny Bairstow an opportunity to come in and make that place his own. We saw glimpses of his talent today before he fell to the same sort of dismissal we've seen too often from him in the past. But at least he's got a fresh mind and hopefully can add a bit of impetus to the England line-up."
Prior has claimed 217 Test catches and 13 stumpings since making his debut against the West Indies in 2007, and still averages over 40 with the bat despite his recent poor run of form having notched up 3,920 runs including seven centuries.
"I think Prior has been a phenomenal performer for England - not just the runs he's scored but the way he's scored them as well," said Strauss. "He's always taken the game to the opposition. That has been sadly missing over the last nine Test matches or so.
"The tail has been exposed and they haven't had the 'glue' of Prior, who always batted very well with the tail.
"His glovework on the whole has been outstanding but at the moment I think he is really devoid of confidence and he probably needs to go back to Sussex, get a few runs and regain that confidence before England can pick him again."
Fellow Sky Sports pundit Nasser Hussain agreed with Strauss that Prior deserved to play out the remaining two Tests of the tour, especially in the light of the 69 and 26 he made at Adelaide and Perth respectively.
"I would probably have played him for another two games because there were signs in the last innings of the last two Tests that he was regaining some kind of confidence with the bat," said Hussain.
"But what probably shifted their minds was Prior's wicketkeeping in the second innings at Perth when there were all those missed stumpings and half-chances that he put down. They probably felt that his mind was a bit frazzled.
"You've got to remember that every day as a wicketkeeper you are preparing either to bat or to keep wicket, which are two very arduous tasks.
"So he's worked every single day and out of everyone he is going to be the one who is a bit frazzled. He would argue that other people have been given a longer chance and he should still be there, but it's a tough school.
"Whether Bairstow, Buttler or whoever is given the opportunity, I hope they are given a long go at it."
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