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The Ashes: Matt Prior brands David Warner-Joe Root incident 'ridiculous'

Matt Prior: Staying focused on job in hand

Prior has backed Joe Root to shine as a Test opener

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Vice-captain Matt Prior has branded David Warner's altercation with Joe Root as "ridiculous" and has urged England not to let Australia's chaotic preparations distract them in the lead up to the first Ashes Test.

Warner's off-field antics, injury worries concerning captain Michael Clarke and a change of coach 16 days prior to the Trent Bridge opener have seen the tourists thrown into turmoil before an Ashes ball has even been bowled.

England wicketkeeper Prior is, however, refusing to be drawn into the dramas in the opposition camp and while he labelled the Warner-Root incident as "ridiculous" he is determined not to read any more into Australia's travails.

"I think one of the toughest things about the Ashes is that there are so many things going on off the pitch and away from your team that it can pull you away from concentrating on your own things if you're not careful."

Matt Prior

"Firstly we don't know what is going on in the Aussie camp, we don't know the details and we don't know the politics," he said.

"Secondly it doesn't affect us at all. We don't want to get involved in that, we don't want to focus on them at all.

"I think one of the toughest things about the Ashes is that there are so many things going on off the pitch and away from your team that it can pull you away from concentrating on your own things if you're not careful.

"If you take your eye off your own team for one minute it can bite you very quickly, so that is where we'll be focusing."

Innocent

Australia are still yet to decide whether left-handed opening batsman Warner will feature at any stage of the five-Test series after he admitted punching England's Joe Root in a Birmingham bar earlier this month.

Prior admitted he had barely believed Warner's actions but said it would provide no more added incentive to retain the Ashes.

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"I wasn't sure if it was true at first and it all sounded a bit ridiculous to be honest," said Prior, who was launching an ECB campaign to mark the upcoming Investec Ashes Series, calling on fans to show their support and #RISE for England.

"I just thought poor, innocent Rooty. But it is an Ashes series and shouldn't take too much to get you motivated. It was a ridiculous thing to happen."

Root is set to play a key role in his first Ashes series after England's selectors this week confirmed the 22-year-old Yorkshireman was their preferred partner for skipper Alastair Cook.

Root has batted in the middle order in his six Tests to date but will begin his dress rehearsal as an opener in an upcoming preparation game against Essex, in place of the deposed Nick Compton.

Faith

"Joe is naturally an opening bat. That is where he has played his cricket and opened at Yorkshire," Prior said.

"It was inevitable that at some stage that he would end up opening for England.

"I think you have to have a certain temperament to open the batting and Rooty has got that.

"I have faith in him, as I do all the England players, and fingers crossed he is going to perform brilliantly."

Prior will head into his third Ashes series as Cook's deputy and, should injury befall the skipper, could find himself leading England's charge.

Given Cook's durability - he has not missed a Test for seven years - it is a long shot and Prior admits that was probably for the best.

"I have thought about that (captaining) for about five seconds and brought myself into a cold sweat and decided not to think any more," he said.

"In the one-dayers Cookie dived for a ball and held his shoulder. I was thinking 'get up, get up'.

"Fingers crossed he'll be absolutely fine, but if not I'll have to step up and I am sure I will do a good job."

Who will win the 2013 Ashes?

  • England
  • Australia
  • Draw

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