Image courtesy of: The Times
“I know people say that it doesn’t get you runs, wickets or catches, but it gives you the best opportunity to stay fit and the best opportunity to stay away from fatigue”
England vice-captain and wicketkeeper Matt Prior has revealed that “since we won The Ashes in the summer I’ve lost 9kgs (18lb) and feel in the best condition of my whole career”.
During the long break England have had, Prior cycled almost every day in order to be “in the right shape” for the upcoming Ashes series, which begins on November 21 in Brisbane.
The reason for this can be attributed to Prior’s determination to help England win their fourth Ashes series in a row, a feat which they have not accomplished since the 1890s.
“One of the main things is being physically in the right shape because I think going into the next five Tests, the team that can avoid injury the best will obviously be in a better position,” Prior said. “So making sure that we are physically all right has been a very important part of our preparation.
“Since we won The Ashes in the summer I’ve lost 9kgs (18lb) and feel in the best condition of my whole career.
“We had our fitness testing up at Loughborough last week and I managed to get personal bests in every aspect, so from that point of view the cycling is really working.
“That’s the most important thing – that everything you are doing is giving you the best opportunity to perform.
“I know people say that it doesn’t get you runs, wickets or catches, but it gives you the best opportunity to stay fit and the best opportunity to stay away from fatigue. Our fitness levels collectively are really high, so all the guys can go over there feeling in the best position to play well.”
Prior began cycling just last year as it helped with the recovery of his Achilles injury, however, he developed such a fascination with it that Team Sky invited him to their training camp in Tenerife, where he got to ride alongside Sir Bradley Wiggins and this year’s Tour de France winner Chris Froome.
The vice-captain is so addicted to cycling that he wants to continue doing it while in the Land Down Under.
“Our tour manager Phil Neale threw his toys out and said I couldn’t take my bike with me, so I told him I am going to put bricks in with my golf clubs to prove a point,” Prior said. “The irony is that the bike weighs only a third of what the clubs do.
“When you are on these long tours you do need your form of escapism whatever it may be. I used to play golf, and cycling is that for me now.”
Prior also admitted that England did not play their “best cricket” when they defeated Australia 3-0 in the recent Ashes series this summer.
“If we’d won 3-0 10 years ago, the country would have stopped for a day,” he said. “It didn’t feel good enough and I could understand in one sense – we didn’t play our best cricket.
“But you have to make sure that when you aren’t playing your best cricket, you still win. Those times really show your class as a team – and we did that.”
With all the rumours and speculation suggesting that England team director And Flower’s departure is imminent, Prior admitted that he “would be really sad” if Flower did end up leaving.
“I would be really sad if Andy packed up because he has been hugely pivotal in this team,” Prior said. “Look at when he took over in 2009 with what happened with Mooresy and KP. We were seventh in the world at that stage, but look at all the series we’ve won since then – we got to No.1 in the rankings, not just with the Test team, the one-day side as well.
“Who knows what he is going to do? I hope he stays on, but the important thing is we know we have got him for this Ashes. We’d try and persuade him to stay, but anyone who knows Andy will realise that once he’s made up his mind on something he’s not to be persuaded.”