x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Prior's luck ran out the broken window

After his characteristically watchable hundred, which rectified an otherwise parlous situation for the home side, the wheels quickly came off for him.

MCC members inspect a broken window after Matt Prior returned to the dressing room.
MCC members inspect a broken window after Matt Prior returned to the dressing room.

What Matt Prior would have given for another final day like Cardiff, where his England side stole a 1-0 lead in the series thanks to an hour of madness from Sri Lanka.

He could certainly have done without yesterday being a slow news day in the cricket.

Yes, Kevin Pietersen did fall to a left-arm spinner again, but he had already made a hinting at a comeback 72 by then. Which, in itself, was not enough to make him the story of the day.

Alastair Cook, the immovable opener, got his name on the honours board with another ton. But Cook scoring a century is hardly news these days, either. He has made six in his last nine Tests now.

In the absence of anything approaching excitement, let alone a result, the viewfinder was trained, instead, on the England wicket-keeper.

The second Test had started so well for him. When England return to Lord's to play India later this summer, he knows he will be able to look at the honours board in the home dressing room and see a new addition, reading: "MJ Prior, 126 v Sri Lanka, 2011."

Unfortunately for him, that will not be the only newly instituted fitting. After being run out while attempting an unselfish yet kamikaze single as England pushed to set up a second-innings declaration, he ended up smashing a dressing room window in frustration.

Prior's employers had issued an apology, as well as an explanation, for the incident, before England had finished their tea.

"There were bats resting on the window pane," an England spokesman was quoted as saying. "A glove was thrown by Matt Prior into a kit-bag.

"It ricocheted into the bats resting on the window pane, and that broke the glass. A lady spectator suffered a small cut to her ankle. It was an accident, and Matt Prior has apologised."

Prior's luck was clearly out by the time window-gate happened. After his characteristically watchable hundred, which rectified an otherwise parlous situation for the home side, the wheels quickly came off for him.

In Sri Lanka's first innings, he let 25 byes go past him. Much of it he could do nothing about: anyone would think he had gone round to the houses of his quick bowlers and smashed all their windows, judging by the way they bowled for much of the first innings.

Yet cricket is numbers driven, and those byes represent a blemish for Prior. The Sussex keeper has done much to repair his reputation since being damned as a boorish youth who could not catch when he first graduated into the England team.

When India last toured England, he found himself at the centre of two separate tiffs, one involving Jelly Beans and the other an attempt at product placement which was misinterpreted as a crass sledge.

"I don't mind if people think I'm an average cricketer, but I don't like to be thought an average person," a contrite Prior was quoted as saying of his role in those incidents.

He must have had a sinking feeling when he heard the smashing noises yesterday. High definition was not half as widespread last time he courted controversy.

Sky have most things covered on the field, but where the soundtrack came from of the window smashing, who knows? Perhaps the balustrades on the pavilion are wired to the effects-microphone. Or perhaps the Victorian structure has gargoyle mic.

Prior suffered because of the fact it was one of those slow days which happen in Test cricket, where the sideshows take precedence.

For much of the time, the sparse crowd seemed like they had to keep themselves entertained. They cheered Jonathan Trott when he was brought on after tea as though he was some sort of pantomime bowler.

When the occasional seamer dismissed Tharanga Paranavitana to claim his second Test wicket, the most optimistic spectators hoped there was still a chance of a result.

There was not, however, and England ushered the end in with artificial haste, with two spin-bowlers -Pietersen and Graeme Swann - running through the final overs. Prior, it is safe to assume, will have been grateful it was over.

 

pradley@thenational.ae