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Sporting Chapters: Matt Prior on the Ashes, KP and being Test best

Sporting Chapters - Matt Prior

England wicketkeeper Matt Prior would love to win a third Ashes series on the spin - but says the proudest moment of his career so far was helping England to the top of the Test rankings in 2011.

Prior, now Test vice-captain, averaged over 67 and claimed 16 catches and a stumping as England whitewashed India to climb to the summit of the five-day game - a position they subsequently relinquished after losing to South Africa last summer.

"To get to No 1 you have to perform consistently against everyone you play against, home and away, over a prolonged period of time, so to do that was a fantastic effort."

Matt Prior

Speaking to Sporting Chapters to promote his new book The Gloves are Off, the 31-year-old revealed that - for him - that achievement eclipsed England's 3-1 victory in Australia in 2010/11.

"I've been so fortunate to be involved in a fantastic England team so far and to have won a lot of Test matches," he said. "The proudest moment was when we beat India 4-0 and got to No 1 in the world.

"A lot of people have said 'isn't it winning in Australia?' But to get to World No 1 you don't just have to perform for a series; in a series you can have a bit of luck - win some important tosses or whatever it might be - and win the series.

"But to get to No 1 you have to perform consistently against everyone you play against, home and away, over a prolonged period of time, so to do that was a fantastic effort. But that should take nothing away from winning the Ashes in Australia."

Massive

Prior's place in Ashes history is assured as a member of the England team that became the first side to win in Australia since Mike Gatting's touring party of 1986/87, retaining the urn they won under Andrew Strauss in 2009.

Thoughts, though, are very much on the present as the current squad finalise preparations to take on Australia in back-to-back Ashes series - starting with the first Test at Trent Bridge on July 10.

It's a challenge Prior cannot wait for.

"I've been really fortunate to play in and win two Ashes series - that feeling is like nothing else for an England cricketer," he said.

"So this is a massive summer. I'm really looking forward to it. We're about three weeks away now; preparations are well underway and we're just looking forward to getting stuck in. Playing Ashes cricket is like nothing else.

"There were a few England bowlers who were very happy when they heard that Ponting and Hussey had retired but someone is going to take their place.

"There is no such thing as a weak Australian cricket team. It leaves the door open for young players to come in and perform and make sure they become part of Australian cricket history in their own right."

Healthy

Prior Interview - Part One

England are still hopeful of having a veteran of three Ashes series in their side in the shape of Kevin Pietersen, who has been out of action since March with a knee injury.

Pietersen was reintegrated back into the England squad in October 2012 after he was dropped for sending 'provocative' text messages to South African players last summer.

Prior told Sporting Chapters that far from being entirely to blame for the episode, the batsman was - in part at least - let down by the sliding standards of his team-mates.

"Kev obviously wasn't happy - firstly he had issues with the ECB, which were for him to deal with," he said. "But I then heard that he wasn't happy in the dressing room and that then, for me, became a players' issue. That wasn't for the coach or anybody else - that's a team-mate saying 'look, I'm not happy in the dressing room and I'm struggling'.

"I basically wanted to see if it was true or if it was just press speculation; so I did what I thought was the right thing to do - I picked up the phone and we had a great chat about how he felt and what needed to change and I was able to tell him what I felt and what needed to change as well.

"It was a very, very healthy conversation and hopefully it helped Kev get back. Once I'd spoken to KP I realised that there were things that we'd let slip as a team and it wasn't just Kev's fault, it was the team's fault as well - it was a bit of both.

Prior: We must be prepared

"Ultimately we wanted Kev back in the dressing room because he's a fantastic cricketer. We know with Kev in our side and the England cricket team pulling in the same direction, it's a stronger team. It was really important that we got that right and thankfully we did."

But that's only a fraction of the story covered in Matt's book, The Gloves are Off. Click on the video above to hear much more about his career to date, including:

CATCHING THE BUG: how his wicketkeeping career came about by accident thanks to a traffic jam and the sizeable impact that Peter Moores and Bruce French have had on his career since

LORDING IT: what it felt like to make a hundred on his Test debut against the West Indies at Lord's and the challenge of finding his spot in the England dressing room

LEFT STUMPED: how he flirted with the idea of taking up baseball - and came to hate cricket - after finding out he'd been dropped by England while on holiday in New York

BEAN AND GONE: the impact that the infamous 'jellygate' saga of 2007 had on his career and how he fought to clear his name after a 'character assassination'

To check out this interview and more, click here to visit the Sporting Chapters archive.

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