Matt Prior

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Matt Prior
Matt prior.jpg
Personal information
Full name Matthew James Prior
Born (1982-02-26) 26 February 1982 (age 32)
Johannesburg, Transvaal Province, South Africa
Nickname Big Cheese[1]
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Batting style Right-handed
Role Wicketkeeper-batsman
International information
National side
Test debut (cap 635) 17 May 2007 v West Indies
Last Test 13 December 2013 v Australia
ODI debut (cap 187) 5 December 2004 v Zimbabwe
Last ODI 26 March 2011 v Sri Lanka
ODI shirt no. 23
Domestic team information
Years Team
2001–present Sussex (squad no. 13)
2002 MCC
2011 Victoria Bushrangers
Career statistics
Competition Test ODI FC LA
Matches 75 68 242 222
Runs scored 3,920 1,282 12,832 5,072
Batting average 40.83 24.19 39.24 27.26
100s/50s 7/27 0/3 27/74 4/28
Top score 131* 87 201* 144
Catches/stumpings 217/13 71/8 611/41 187/31
Source: CricketArchive, 19 February 2014

Matthew James Prior (born 26 February 1982) is an English cricketer who plays for England in Test cricket and domestic cricket for Sussex. He is a wicket-keeper, and his aggressive right-handed batting enables him to open the innings in ODI matches. With an international Test debut score of 126, Prior became the first English wicket-keeper to hit a century in his debut match in early 2007. His glovework, however, was criticised. Despite a successful tour of Sri Lanka with the bat,[2] Prior's keeping was less successful, and he was dropped from the team for the 2008 tour of New Zealand.[3] He returned for the 2008 series against South Africa, and was retained into 2009, where he became the second fastest England keeper to reach 1,000 Test runs, behind Les Ames.

Early and personal life[edit]

Prior was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and moved to England with his family aged 11. His mother is South African and his father is English.[4][5] Prior attended Brighton College during which time he began playing for Sussex County Cricket Club. From an early age Prior showed commitment to charitable causes and has never shied away from taking part in matches and events in the name of charity. He is married to Emily, the daughter of former footballer Sammy Nelson who played for Arsenal F.C. and Brighton & Hove Albion. The Priors have a son named Jonathan who was born early 2009.

Domestic career[edit]

Prior keeping wicket for Sussex during the final of the 2009 Friends Provident Trophy against Hampshire at Lord's.

Prior received the NBC Denis Compton Award for young cricketers three times in his career. He has hit more than 1,000 first class runs over the course of two seasons, in 2003 when he won the County Championship with Sussex, and 2004, when his 1,158 runs, including 201 not out against Loughborough UCCE, was enough to be top-scorer for Sussex that season. In 2005 he made fewer runs, with 874, but also became Sussex's first choice wicket-keeper again after having shared duties with Tim Ambrose in the two previous seasons. He has won the County Championship three times (2003, 2006 and 2007) although in 2007 he did not take part as much as before due to his England duties. It was while playing against Shane Warne that Prior acquired the nickname of 'watermelons', after Warne mimicked Prior's walk to the crease, with 'his arms out as if he were carrying a watermelon under each arm'.[6]

ODI career[edit]

Prior made his One Day International debut in England's one-day series against Zimbabwe in 2004: he was chosen to open with Ian Bell and made 35 before he was dismissed by Ed Rainsford in a 74-run win.

Prior has been on three tours with the England A team, in 2003/4, 2004/5 and 2006/07. He was also selected as back-up wicket-keeper to Geraint Jones. He made 45. Having played in all five ODI's of the series, he was also named in the squad for the tour to India that followed. He has said that at this time he found it difficult to integrate himself with the team, as it was 'steady group. Clique would be the wrong word...but it was a tough group to get into as a young player.'[6] He played in six ODI's, opening the batting in four of them. Prior remained in the One Day side until he was left out for the ODI squad for the tour to Sri Lanka, in favour of Phil Mustard (but remained in the Test side). After missing both home and away series against New Zealand, Prior returned to the side following the poor form of replacement Tim Ambrose for the home series against South Africa. On 26 August 2008 Prior took six catches against South Africa at Trent Bridge only the second Englishman to achieve that feat in an ODI. In that match England bowled South Africa for just 83 their second lowest score against England in a One Day game where Stuart Broad took career best figures of 5–23.

Prior was England's wicket-keeper for the ill-fated Twenty20 Stanford Super Series in November 2008, but was dropped for the Twenty20 match against the West Indies in early 2009 for Steven Davies, and for the 2009 World Twenty20 for James Foster. Despite this, Prior remained an active part of the England 50 over side, and was elevated to number 3 for the home series against the West Indies.

Test career[edit]

Debut century[edit]

Matt Prior was chosen ahead of Paul Nixon for the keeper's spot for the first Test of the summer at Lord's in 2007 against the West Indies. He scored a hundred on his debut, taking just 105 deliveries and hitting 16 boundaries after coming in at number 7, and finishing on 126 not out. He became the first England wicket keeper to score a Test hundred on debut[7] and the 17th English batsman to record the feat overall. (Note that although both Paul Gibb and Billy Griffith scored debut centuries, and although both were wicket-keepers, neither was actually keeping wicket in their debut Test.) The last wicketkeeper to make a half century on debut was Jack Russell, who scored 94 against Sri Lanka at Lords in 1988.

Prior was one of four centurions in the innings along with Alastair Cook, Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell. It was the first time since 1938 that four England players scored hundreds in the same innings of a Test match.[7]

Wicketkeeping issues[edit]

In the 2007 ICC World Twenty20, Prior broke his thumb, As England had not brought a reserve wicket keeper, they gave Vikram Solanki the gloves. After that, Prior was selected to play in Sri Lanka in the Test series. His poor form followed with a duck but then scored 63 in the second innings. Prior put some critics to rest with this and with his efforts in the second match of the tour at Colombo, when he scored 79, which was the backbone of England's first innings score, and ended the series with the third highest batting average for England, 41.25.[2]

However, Prior's good batting form was overshadowed by his poor wicket-keeping. It was the poor form with the gloves that led to him being dropped for the 2008 tour of New Zealand for Tim Ambrose, the Warwickshire keeper and former Sussex rival. When the squad was announced on 4 January 2008, Chairman of Selectors David Graveney stated – "Prior performed well with the bat in Sri Lanka and it has been a difficult decision to leave him out of this tour, but the selectors feel that he needs to further improve his wicket-keeping in order to realise his full potential in international cricket. But I'm sure Matt will be back, there's no doubt about that."[3] Prior considered ending his career as a wicketkeeper to concentrate on his batting[6] but decided to continue after speaking with Alec Stewart.[6]


Prior returned to the international scene firstly in the One Day International series against South Africa, after missing home and away series against New Zealand. After showing improved glovework, and the failure of Ambrose to hold down a position in the side, Prior firstly returned to the One Day International side for their 4–0 series victory against South Africa in the summer of 2008. Due to this good form, Prior also returned to the Test side for the India tour later in 2008 (following the Stanford Super Series in November.

Named in the Test squad for the away series against the West Indies, Prior played in the First, Second and Third tests. However, with his wife due to give birth, Prior returned to England to witness the birth, with Ambrose deputising. Despite Ambrose making a not out 76, Prior returned for the 5th Test after returning to the Caribbean. Following the return, Prior made his highest Test score (131 not out) in the final Test Match in Trinidad, and celebrated his century by mimicking rocking a baby with his bat to celebrate becoming a father. However, once again his glovework was questionable, as in the same match he broke the world record for byes conceded. Nevertheless, he was declared Man of the Match.[8] He remained in the side for the return tour of England by the West Indies and reached 1,000 Test runs with 42 in the first innings of the First Test – the second-fastest England wicketkeeper to this mark, behind Les Ames.[9] He retained his place in the Test side for the 2009 Ashes, despite James Foster's apparently superior facility behind the sticks, as displayed to much acclaim during the World Twenty20. Prior had done well with the bat for Sussex in the County Championship, averaging over fifty, but had not kept wicket due to a hand injury sustained against the West Indies.[10]

2009 Ashes[edit]

Batting at number six, Prior continued his good form with the bat into the Ashes series, scoring a 62-ball 56 in the first innings at the SWALEC Stadium in Cardiff as England's middle- and lower-order boosted England to 435 all out, and 14 in the second innings as England held on for an improbable draw. In the Lord's victory Prior was bowled for 8 in the first innings as England subsided from 302 for 3 (Andrew Strauss 161) to 425 all out, but contributed a 42-ball 61 in the second innings as England sought quick runs; his partnership with Paul Collingwood added 86 runs in twelve overs. At Edgbaston he scored 41 in England's only innings in a drawn match, and held three catches in each of Australia's innings. Despite suffering from back spasms before the start of the first day, raising doubts as to his fitness to play, Prior offered a lone hand in the first innings at Headingley, scoring 37 not out as England subsided to 102 all out against Australia's seam attack; Prior aside, only Alastair Cook (30) reached double figures. He added a 29-ball 22 in the second innings, sharing a century partnership with Stuart Broad, but could not avert an innings defeat. At the Oval Prior scored only 18 and 4, but produced a sharp stumping on the final day to dismiss Marcus North as England surged to a 197-run victory in the match and a 2–1 victory in the series, thus regaining the Ashes. Prior's series aggregate of 262 runs was higher than any other England player bar Andrew Strauss; his runs had been scored at a Gilchrist-esque strike-rate of 82 per hundred balls.[11]

2010–11 Ashes[edit]

Prior was ever-present in the Test side in England's successful 2010–11 Ashes Series in Australia. He started the series with a golden duck, the second victim of Peter Siddle's hat-trick on the first day of the series. He only managed a top-score of 27 not out in the first three Tests, however he finished strongly in the final two.

In the fourth Test at the MCG, he held six catches in Australia's first innings as they were bowled out for just 98. He followed this up with 85 runs as England won by an innings to take a 2–1 series lead and retain the Ashes with a Test to spare. In the fifth and final Test he scored his first century against Australia from 109 balls, the fastest English Ashes century since Ian Botham's 118 at Old Trafford in 1981. He was the third centurion of England's innings, along with Alastair Cook and Ian Bell, as England scored 644.

Prior standing up to the stumps during the Lord's Test against Sri Lanka

Role within the Team[edit]

In his role as wicketkeeper, Prior has been described as 'a big talker behind the stumps' but has argued that this approach is different from the behaviour that saw him criticised during the 2007 tour by India; 'Ninety-five percent of the time, my chat is about geeing up our bowlers and the fielding unit.'[6] Prior has been credited with being a catalyst of the return of batsman Kevin Pietersen to the England side after the latter was dropped following disputes within the team.[6] Matt Prior was promoted to vice-captain of the test side following Andrew Strauss' retirement and Alastair Cook subsequently being made captain.

2013 Ashes[edit]

Prior made his 200th catch for England during the 4th test in Durham, and he is third in test dismissals all time behind Alan Knott (250) and Alec Stewart (277).[12]

2013-14 Ashes[edit]

With England 3-0 down in the series in Australia, Prior was dropped in favour of Jonny Bairstow. However England still lost the following test in Melbourne.

Test centuries[edit]

Matt Prior's Test centuries
Runs Match Against Location Venue Year
[1] 126* 1  West Indies London, England Lord's 2007
[2] 131* 16  West Indies Port of Spain, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago Queens Park Oval 2009
[3] 102* 32  Pakistan Nottingham, England Trent Bridge 2010
[4] 118 40  Australia Sydney, Australia Sydney Cricket Ground 2011
[5] 126 42  Sri Lanka London, England Lord's 2011
[6] 103* 44  India London, England Lord's 2011
[7] 110* 65  New Zealand Auckland, New Zealand Eden Park 2013
An innings-by-innings breakdown of Prior's Test match batting career, current as at 22 January 2012,[13] showing runs scored (blue and orange bars) and his career batting average (red line). An alternative image is available showing a 10 innings moving average.


  1. ^ "Matt Prior talks about his transformation from a brash keeper to the team's beating heart | Cricinfo Magazine". ESPN Cricinfo. Retrieved 2013-08-09. 
  2. ^ a b "Test series in Sri Lanka, averages". BBC News. Retrieved 22 December 2007. 
  3. ^ a b "England drop Prior for NZ series". BBC Online. 4 January 2008. Retrieved 4 January 2008. 
  4. ^ Etheridge, John (25 May 2007). "Put out the welcome Matt". The Sun (London). 
  5. ^ "Confident Prior shows few fears on facing second examination", The Independent, 2007-05-20. Retrieved on 17 September 2007.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Reid, Alex (5 Jul 2013). Matt Prior Interview in 'Sport' Magazine. 'Sport' Magazine. p. 28-17-20. 
  7. ^ a b Brett, Oliver (18 May 2007). "Prior shines in England run spree". BBC News. Retrieved 18 May 2007. 
  8. ^ "The Wisden Trophy – 5th Test West Indies v England". CricInfo. Retrieved 6 May 2009. 
  9. ^ "Test matches – Fastest to 1000 runs". CricInfo. Retrieved 7 May 2009. 
  10. ^ Hoult, Nick. "Ashes 2009: England squad form guide." 22 June 2009. (accessed 28 June 2009).
  11. ^ "Ashes 2009: England batting and bowling averages". Retrieved 2013-08-09. 
  12. ^ Ashes Cricket - Matt Prior honoured to reach 200 catches for England
  13. ^ ESPNcricinfo. "Statistics / Statsguru / MJ Prior / Test matches". ESPN. Retrieved 22 January 2012. 

External links[edit]