Ian Chappell slams Prior

Former Australian captain Ian Chappell has condemned the glovework of England’s Matthew Prior and claimed that England are “making huge mistakes” picking wicketkeepers in general. Prior endured a shocking Test at The Oval, dropping Sachin Tendulkar and diverting what would have been a simple chance away from first-slip from VVS Laxman. Speaking to Cricinfo after the game, Chappell delivered a damning verdict.

“I cannot see how England are going to win against decent sides with a wicketkeeper who is woeful,” he said. “An old skipper of mine, Les Favell, said that once a wicketkeeper starts costing you games, he’s got to go, Matthew Prior is in that category for me.”

Prior has endured a full circle’s turn in the space of 3 months, and after a barnstorming debut against West Indies, has barely been able to buy a run against the Indians. His wicketkeeping, however, was the main target of Chappell’s ire:

“England have got to seriously look at how they judge wicketkeepers, because they are making huge mistakes,” said Chappell. “What we’ve seen lately with Jones and Prior just isn’t going to work. They got very lucky in the Ashes in 2005, and got away with that, but they’ve got to revisit the way they select wicketkeepers.”

“No way in the world are they going to win against Australia with a wicketkeeper that like. He’s going to let somebody off – Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Michael Clarke – and boy, you’re going to pay heavily for that.”

He also criticised England coach Peter Moores, who has been a long-time mentor of Prior from his days at Sussex: “I’m told [Moores] has had Prior since the Under-13s and if that’s the footwork from that coach from U-13 to now, they’ve got a problem.”

Towards the end of his career, Chappell played alongside Rodney Marsh, widely acclaimed as one of the best ever. Nonetheless, Marsh had acquired the name “Irongloves” early on in his career. Alec Stewart, too, became a high-class wicketkeeper after failing to convince for 6 years after taking the gloves for the first time in Tests. Chappell, however, felt there was nothing to work with in Prior’s case:

“It’s alright for some ex-players and scribes to say anyone can have a bad match, but you’ve got to see something there for the future, and I think Prior is so far off being an international wicketkeeper at Test level. One-day matches, he’ll probably be terrific and that’s fine, but Tests? Forget it.”

Prior is expected to be named in the England ODI squad for the 7-match series which starts after the tourists play games against Scotland on the 16th and England Lions on the 18th of August. Speaking to BBC Sport, he said the previous week had been “the hardest in my cricketing life, without a shadow of a doubt”.

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