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Ashes 2021-22 | Matt Prior believes that England will have fast bowlers clinch the series

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Matt Prior believes that England have bowlers capable to enough to lead the team to victory

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Ashes 2021-22 | Matt Prior believes that England will have fast bowlers clinch the series

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SportsCafe Desk

11/19/2021

Matt Prior is of the opinion that England have a set of fast bowlers to replicate their success in Ashes 2010-11 and the runs scored by batsmen will be vital for the victory. He also added that team needs to make sure they are very clear on their own plans playing versus Australia in the Ashes.

The Ashes series 2021-22 is set to begin from December 8. England will be looking forward to replicate their success in the series from 2010-11 while Australia will be fighting for a series win. The Australia squad for the first two Tests has been announced while England have also declared their final squad for the series. 

Reflecting on the series, former England wicketkeeper Matt Prior has opined that England have a set of fast bowler who can play a vital role for England if they want to emerge from Down Under with a win. Prior was quick to add that it can only work if batsmen compile enough runs to keep the team competitive.

"England taking 20 wickets hasn't been the problem. The key will be, can England score enough runs to give the bowlers an opportunity to take 20 wickets? It's no secret that England haven't scored enough runs for a period of time,” he said to ESPNcricinfo.

The England batting unit hasn’t been consistent in recent times with Joe Root, who has been in red hot form in 2021, being the only exception. The England captain has scored 1455 runs at 66.13 in 2021 so far. Prior stated that he is hopeful of Joe Root scoring runs but other batsmen should also contribute to the team. 

"We all hope Joe is going to score a massive amount runs, he's one of the best players in the world, if not the best at the moment," Prior said. "But we also can't just lump the whole pressure on one guy. The top five, six batters need to score consistently the bulk of the runs,” he commented.

"In 2010-11, it was very clear what our batsmen had to do. [Andrew] Strauss, [Alastair] Cook and [Jonathan] Trott in that top three had to lay a foundation. If they didn't score quickly, they had to bat time and get a get a real solid foundation for KP, Bell and Collingwood to come in and take the attack to tired bowlers, bowling with an older ball. It's really that simple."

Prior also believes that the team needs to be clear with their plans and it will be important to take wickets to build pressure while playing in Australia. 

"Making sure that you're very clear on your own plans is crucial," Prior said. "If you're bowling on pretty flat wickets, which they are in Australia, and the ball's not moving, through swing, reverse or spin, then you have to take wickets by building pressure, that's your only other option,” he stated.

England have four fast bowlers James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Ollie Robinson, and Mark Wood. The two all-rounders Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes will also roll their arms. Prior believes that Broad, Anderson, and Robinson will be bowling well but the role of the fourth seamer in the team will become important.

"There's nothing about touring Australia that James Anderson and Stuart Broad don't know. They're invaluable in that dressing room to pass on to a younger bowlers like Ollie Robinson, who has been fantastically impressive since coming into the international arena,” he opined.

"I think there's always a question mark when someone doesn't have the express pace of Mark Wood or Jofra Archer. But Robinson has shown he is able to execute his skill and take wickets at the top level, and he will fit in to that game-plan of going for no runs, building pressure, consistently hitting the top of off stump, consistently challenging a batsman's defence.”

"So those three, I have no worry about, but as we know, a bowling line-up has to bowl in partnerships, it has to be the full group, so whoever that fourth seamer is, it's going to be crucial that they are able to maintain pressure as well, and not undo it all by going at four an over."

Prior also opined that Test format has changed tremendously and people expect runs to be scored quickly.

"People expect runs to be scored quickly, and even in Test matches now, you're looking at run rates of 3.5 an over as normal. So building pressure is a skill in itself, and one that people underestimate. It's not just about hanging the ball wide, it's about being able to stay very tight on your line and length, and execute your skill ball after ball after ball, without getting bored,” he remarked.

England had won the Ashes in 2010-11 by a scoreline of 3-1. Prior scored 252 runs in the series including a century and also claimed 23 catches behind the stumps. Sharing his experience of playing in Australia, Prior said that the ball doesn't swing very much in Australia and so bowlers will have to find different ways to restrict batsmen.

"It's certainly what we did in 2010-11. In Australia, the ball doesn't swing all over the place, and you need to find different ways. Also, if you lose the toss on a flat one and end up bowling first, it's a tactic that can arm you when things aren't going so well,” he explained.

The players are following the strict protocols for Covid over the last couple of years. They have to move from bubble to bubble every series. Reflecting on the current condition, Prior said that winning away from the home in the Ashes is very difficult.

"Winning away from home is difficult. Winning away from home in the Ashes during Covid is even more difficult. I never had that experience, thank goodness, because I would have gone absolutely crazy tied up in hotel. But it can't be used as an excuse because it's the world we live in now. When you get on an aeroplane, to represent England in an Ashes series, you have to find a way. You can't just turn up and throw in the towel,” he remarked. 

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