Matt Prior was a key member of an England cricket team that for many has been the benchmark for the modern age. As a wicketkeeper-batsman he was a member of three Ashes-winning teams, hit 7 Test centuries, made 4099 runs and was responsible for 256 dismissals. In an England team that rose to number one in the International Cricket Council rankings he was widely seen as the lynchpin, his energy and team spirit evident both on and off the pitch. Since retirement in 2015 Prior has followed his second passion, moving seamlessly into business and founding ONE Pro Cycling with the ambitious goal of reaching the top tier of world racing.
Matt entered the world of international cricket during a period of transition for England, with many of the senior players retiring amidst a string of heavy defeats. After a run of poor performances Strauss was appointed captain and a slow turn around started to take shape. Key to this was the reinvigoration of the culture within the dressing room – the team was charged with creating its own vision and challenged to hold themselves to account for their professionalism and work ethic. Matt played a central role in this process, appointed by Strauss to manage the culture, create cohesion, and promote understanding of each individuals’ unique motivators. Most challenging amongst this was Matt’s responsibility for the reintegration of Kevin Pietersen, following his infamous exchange of texts with friends in the South African changing room.
A policy of ‘brutal honesty’ was pursued by the team, tackling problems head on and not being afraid to have frank conversations. They also drew from a meticulously prepared play book, allowing them to react to every eventuality and change the outcome, as well as having specific on pitch calls to ensure logic prevailed over emotion. Prior was pivotal within all of this. While not a natural wicketkeeper his energy, team spirit and work rate was crucial, as was his aggressive batting style. His ability to put runs on the board batting at number 7, and his energetic leadership of the tail end, allowed England to build up a formidable lower order that was the key ingredient in their climb to the top.