Prior is ‘horribly out of nick’, says Michael Atherton

Image courtesy of: The Telegraph

“He hasn’t got runs for a year now”

Former England captain Michael Atherton has announced that wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior is “horribly out of nick” after having been dismissed cheaply in the first Ashes Test in Brisbane and the first innings of the second Test in Adelaide.

Prior struggled in the last Ashes series as well as he only managed to score 133 runs at a dismal average of 19.

“Matt Prior was softened up,” Atherton told Sky Sports. “He’s horribly out of nick – he hasn’t got runs for a year now, or thereabouts, but it was a good bit of bowling.

“Prior’s form – with the bat, that is – is very concerning. His wicket-keeping is excellent, as it always is but he has been in a batting slump for some time now – ever since the start of the New Zealand series.

“He was feted after the year he’d had – he was named England’s player of the year – and it’s amazing how quickly things can turn in the game and how you can’t stop it if you get on a bit of a slide and a slump.

“Prior is in that spiral now. He’s a very experienced, tough cricketer but he’s got to get it out of that slump very quickly.”

Atherton also noted that England’s batsmen are continuing to be dismissed in the exact same way, showing that they haven’t learnt from their mistakes or done anything to correct it.

“Kevin Pietersen’s was a poor dismissal – there were two short mid-wickets in place,” he said. “The fielders are not there for decoration, they are there for a reason.

“The worrying thing for England is this kind of recurring theme of batsmen getting out in similar ways. Pietersen was caught at midwicket at the Gabba and again today, Swann went the same way [driving] and Broad was bowled behind his legs.

“England are definitely being worked over by some good Australian strategy and some high-class fast bowling.”

Atherton also conceded that England have a “very slim chance of saving the game” heading into the final day of the second Test.

“England have a very slim chance of saving the game,” he said. “Nothing is inevitable in the sense that it’s still a decent enough surface and England have good players who can play match-changing innings.

“But you are talking about a one per cent chance. Australia have virtually got this game nailed down and if there’s no rain you’d expect England to go to Perth 2-0 down – and no England team has ever come back from 2-0 down.

“It’s hard to see them doing that because Australia look a much superior side. All of us were expecting a close series at the start, with many of us expecting England to just prevail, but at the moment there is clear-blue water between England and Australia.

“Australia are getting bags of runs while England can’t pass 200. Australia have got quicker bowlers at the moment and bowlers who are creating more energy at the moment.”

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