x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Prior still top stumps for England

The England wicketkeeper has been backed by his captain, Paul Collingwood, following an unexpected challenge from whiz-kid Kieswetter.

Matt Prior, right, plays a shot with his challenger Craig Kieswetter behind the stumps.
Matt Prior, right, plays a shot with his challenger Craig Kieswetter behind the stumps.

DUBAI // Matt Prior, the England wicketkeeper, has been handed the full backing of his captain, Paul Collingwood, following an unexpected challenge this week. Like everybody else on the field at the Zayed Stadium on Wednesday night, Prior was upstaged by a brutal display of hitting by England's new wicketkeeping whiz-kid, Craig Kieswetter.

The Somerset gloveman smashed 81 in 66 balls as his Lions side upset the England seniors in Abu Dhabi, leading some to suggest he should earn an immediate elevation. Collingwood admitted Kieswetter had shown the type of form that could yet earn him a place in England's side for the World Twenty20, but not at the expense of Prior, who has been a fulcrum of the side in recent times. "We may need some kind of X-factor in the World Twenty20 squad," said Collingwood. "If people play well over the next few weeks, and in the IPL, and put their hands up with special performances, there are areas we can improve on. [But] we can get carried away with a couple of innings. We have to remember what Matt Prior has done for this team.

"He was the one who changed the momentum in the match. We were in a little bit of strife after 10 overs, and he came in and played the sort of great innings Matt Prior can play [he made a brisk 33 to repair early damage]. "It wasn't all about power, like Kieswetter. He swept the ball well and hit the ball where his strengths dictate. We have to understand what Matt Prior has done for this team." Collingwood could not fail to be impressed by England's new find, but revealed there was "no temptation" to summon him into the side for tonight's game.

Kieswetter will be watching England's senior team do battle against Pakistan at Dubai Sports City tonight and tomorrow, before his Lions side continue their series against Pakistan A next week. Like Prior, Kieswetter was born in South Africa, and exhibits many similar traits to those that have trodden the path from his homeland to England in the past. "It seems to have been that in the last couple of decades South African-born players have come through the system at hit the ball hard," added Collingwood.

"There was Allan Lamb and Robin Smith in the early days, and then KP came into the game and hit the ball hard, and [Kieswetter] is no different to them. I don't really know the reason for it. There is obviously a lot of confidence involved in going for your shots. "That comes from your upbringing and the wickets you play on at an early age, which give you the confidence to play hard and aggressive shots from a good length.

"Even though we were beaten, we can take a lot of confidence from our own performances and obviously from those of who we were playing against as well." pradley@thenational.ae