Prior doubtful for first Ashes Test after suffering calf tear

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“Matt’s got himself in fantastic condition for this tour and he’s been very good with his rehab, so I’ve got every faith he’ll be fully fit for Brisbane”

England vice-captain and wicketkeeper Matt Prior is unlikely to play the first Ashes Test in Brisbane after suffering a left calf tear during a warm-up match against Australia A in Hobart.

Prior has already been ruled out of England’s next warm-up match against the Cricket Australia Invitational XI in Sydney and it is understood that Jonny Bairstow is likely to replace him if he does not recover in time.

“It’s not ideal but it gives some good opportunity to Jonny Bairstow as well,” England batsman Ian Bell said. “We’ve seen in the past how important it is to get the whole squad playing cricket before the series starts, because you never know with five Test matches, players need cricket under their belt. Matt is a key part of our success over the last few years and obviously we want to get him recovered as quick as possible.

“I would’ve thought if Matt’s fit then he plays. He’s been a massive part of our success, he’s vice-captain of this team, he’s an important bloke in the dressing room the way he talks to the guys, not just the stuff he does on the field.

“There’s still a bit of time, Matt’s got himself in fantastic condition for this tour and he’s been very good with his rehab, so I’ve got every faith he’ll be fully fit for Brisbane, and it gives someone else an opportunity in this game, and it’s good for Jonny to get another game in an England shirt.”

Bell also believes that Bairstow and Joe Root have the potential to become a formidable middle order pair, especially since they now understand the pressures that come with an Ashes series.

“I could feel for both Rooty and Jonny as young players,” Bell said. “The only way to learn about Ashes cricket is by getting involved. You can get a lot of advice from people beforehand but until you’ve gone through it the feelings and the pressure it’s difficult to learn. Those players will be a lot better players for what they’ve been through. It’s nice Jonny gets an opportunity now that he didn’t look like he was going to get on this tour early.”

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