Prior wants England to fight back for all the times they have been “bullied” by Australia
England wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior believes it is time for the national team to do some bullying of their own in this year’s back-to-back Ashes series since the English have often been seen as the victims of Australia’s onslaughts in Ashes history.
Captain Alastair Cook is hoping his side can become the first England team in over a century to win four consecutive Ashes campaigns against the Australians, which they can complete if they manage to defeat the Baggy Greens in front of their home fans at the end of the year.
Prior, who played an instrumental role in England’s 2009 and 2010-11 Ashes triumphs, grew up in an era where Australia were always far superior than England.
“I remember watching Shane Warne, Matthew Hayden and Glenn McGrath, and the way they walked around and bullied England,” Prior told BBC Sport. “Maybe it’s our time to do a bit of bullying ourselves.
“If we prepare and perform as we want to, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t dominate Australia in these two Ashes series. You look at our dressing room and the skills we have in our team – batters, bowlers, the spin department, it’s all there. But Ashes series are strange – there is no such thing as a weak Australian Test side and we will have to be on our game to do it.”
However, many cricket pundits and former players believe England are favourites to win the back-to-back Ashes campaign this year since Australia will struggle to plug the hole left behind by former captain Ricky Ponting and veteran batsman Michael Hussey, both of whom retired fairly recently.
While Australia also have a huge depth of pace bowlers, the fact that they are constantly rotated and succumbing to injuries does not help their cause at all, and this is something that has to change by the start of the first Ashes leg in England.
During the days when the Australian side was captained by the legendary Steve Waugh, the team was infamous for their ‘mental disintegration’ or more commonly known as sledging.
However, while Prior knows all about Australia’s sledging tactics, he stated that England will not back down and can dish out some ‘mental disintegration’ if need be.
“There’s more to it than the odd sledge here and there,” he added. “There are ways of creating an intensity out on the pitch, like the way we hustle around, the way our bowlers put the ball in the right area all day long.”
But, even though Australia are said to be experiencing a tough transition phase, Prior pointed out that they still managed to give South Africa a run for their money in the first two Tests before the Proteas were able to regroup and thrash the Australians in the third Test and keep hold of their world number one Test team ranking.
“Players like Ponting and Hussey can’t be replaced overnight and I know our guys will be relieved they don’t have to bowl at them again,” Prior said. “But as one steps out, it leaves the door open for someone else. The game moves forward and we are going to have to prepare very well against whichever team plays, because they will all be wanting to do well and prove a point.”