Alec Swann - It has to be Prior

Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.
Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.

Matt Prior or Jos Buttler?

Jos Buttler or Matt Prior?

Which of the two, come early June, should be behind the stumps at at number seven in the England Test side?

Decisions, decisions and, relatively speaking, not a lot of time in which to make them.

England’s abysmal winter efforts in Australia have placed the majority of the protagonists under the microscope and quite rightly so.

In fact, without making too much of a leap of faith, you could safely say that only four players, fitness permitting, would be guaranteed a starting place for the first skirmish against the Sri Lankans.

Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad and that’s it. And I don’t think there could be much argument about it.

Even my mathematical skills can work out that leaves seven places up for grabs, one of which is that of the wicket-keeper.

Well, after this week’s round of County Championship games, that particular debate should be a debate no more.

Prior’s century in Sussex’s innings dismantling of Middlesex should have proven that he is back in form and that he should be back in the national fold.

It isn’t so long ago that Prior was lauded as the best in the world at his skill but, like so many of his colleagues, a poor Ashes led to him being tarred with the ‘sack the lot of them’ brush.

A touch premature given that our best cricketers in October haven’t become anything less in the space of six months but such is the way that too many supporters adopt a black and white mentality, it’s easy to understand.

But in Prior’s case, his efforts this week should mean that he is ready to resume his England career and keep any pretenders in their place for a while yet.

Buttler, who has shown in the limited overs formats that he has plenty to offer, will get his chance but that time isn’t quite yet.

Australia’s Brad Haddin may disagree, but Prior is still the world’s premier keeper-batsman and England would be in a very good place if they can jettison someone of his talents.

We all know that isn’t the case so at Lord’s in two month’s time, expect to see Prior back where he belongs.