This current test series in New Zealand has been a real eye opener for the side. Not only have they been out played for two out of the three tests but at times it has genuinely been difficult to establish who the number two ranked side in the world is currently and who is the 8th best ranked side in international test match cricket.
Whilst the overall team performance has been way below par there has been one stand out player in the side; that has been the ever reliable wicket-keeper batsmen Matthew Prior. His wicket-keeping has gone on leaps and bounds over the last three years, some of his catches this series have been truly world class and as it stands currently he has no equal in the glove work department on the international stage.
It is not just his glove work that makes him such a key figure in the side when they are out in the field. Prior is always the first to congratulate a bowler or midfielder and in general encourage the side when things are not going well as a unit. His sledging is clear but equally fair, opposition know what they are up against when Prior is behind the sticks, a man never afraid of going toe to toe with the opposition; which makes him ever more endearing to the English supporters as well as players.
His batting ability has never been in question. After over 60 test matches he is averaging 43 with the bat and regularly scores at the rate of knots when at the crease. His fluent stroke play and natural grit and determination has enabled him to marshal the tail enders very well when given a chance and has one of the key components in England rising to the top of the world rankings in 2011.
England look almost certain is lose this third and final test match against the Kiwi’s, which will result in the first test series defeat for newly appointed captain Alistair Cook. If they somehow manage to bowl New Zealand out cheaply and bat out the best of the match for a draw or maybe the most improbable of victories then it will have much to do with the Brilliance of Prior.