'No qualms' about putting Prior in Test squad

England

Wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior's presence in England's squad for the first Test against Sri Lanka remained in the balance a mere four hours before Thursday's announcement.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior's presence in England's squad for the first Test against Sri Lanka remained in the balance a mere four hours before Thursday's announcement.

The bulk of Prior's season has been hampered by an Achilles injury, suggesting the uncapped Jos Buttler or talented Jonny Bairstow will be selected for next week's series opener instead.

The 32-year-old Prior, however, showed plenty of promise in Sussex's County Championship Division One rain-affected stalemate with Nottinghamshire in Hove earlier this week. He scored a fluid 30 and a burgeoning 19 not out and took four catches, duly drawing praise from coach Mark Robinson.

"He is in good nick and he's batting well and in a good place. Keeping-wise, he got better and better through the game," said Robinson.

"I tell you what, I'd want him stood next to me in a first England Test at Lord's because he's ready. He's a tough competitor and when he's like this, you want him in the team. I'd have no qualms putting him in."

Batsman Alex Hales and fast bowler Liam Plunkett, too, have staked impressive claims. The uncapped Hales struck a masterful 167, which spanned a mere 133 deliveries and featured 18 fours and six sixes, for Nottinghamshire.

Plunkett, who has not played Test match cricket since June 2007, continued a fine stretch of form this season by snaring a telling second-innings four-wicket haul in Yorkshire's big victory over Northamptonshire at Wantage Road.

The squad will likely include 13 players, with captain Alastair Cook, batsman Ian Bell, fast bowler James Anderson and all-rounder Joe Root among the near certainties. Fast bowler Stuart Broad and all-rounder Ben Stokes are doubtful, amid respective knee and hand injury concerns.

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