Calm Prior trumps tension

England

Wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior has testified to the cool, calm and collection that saw England trump nervy circumstances – and win the fourth Ashes Test by 74 runs at the Riverside Ground in Chester-le-Street on Monday.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior has testified to the cool, calm and collection that saw England trump nervy circumstances – and win the fourth Ashes Test by 74 runs at the Riverside Ground in Chester-le-Street on Monday.

Australia's pursuit of a stiff 299-run target cherished a strong platform thanks to left-handers Chris Rogers and David Warner's steely alliance. The pair put on 109 for the first wicket, only for the initial promise to be entirely undone by a severe lack of support.

Rogers eventually fell for 49 and Warner 71, while the inexperienced Usman Khawaja managed a mere 21. From 168 for two, the tourists slipped to 179 for six – and finally 224 all out.

At the fore of the capitulation was host seamer Stuart Broad, who added figures of six for 50 to a first-innings five-for – to finish with Man of the Match and career-best figures of 11 for 121.

"A few guys, after the match, opened up about how nervous they were when Australia were 140-odd for one. I know it was tense but I kept calm. I kept looking at how many runs Australia needed and it still seemed a lot to me," Prior wrote in <i>The Telegraph</i>.

"I knew something could happen. In the first innings we took the last five wickets for 50 runs. I held on to that – stay calm, and it will come. Wickets would come from pressure we built. At one stage I was taken back to Trent Bridge. I remembered it was staying calm that got us over the line in the first Test.

"There was no point panicking and making emotional decisions. You have to keep thinking very logically. Ultimately they are going to have to play well. If we have done the best we can but Australia knock the runs off you have to say well played. That gives you a little bit of reassurance. I admit that it was looking ominous at tea. We had to reassess and change our plans slightly."

The hosts' preparations for the penultimate fixture had been marred by suggestions Old Trafford centurion Kevin Pietersen, among others, had strapped silicone tape across the edges of their bats in order to hoodwink the Decision Review System – particularly its infra-red Hot Spot technology.

"This win was especially pleasing after some of the most ludicrous media stories I have seen as an England player. The stuff coming out before the Test about tape on bats was ridiculous," added Prior.

"We knew there would be a media storm at some stage and when it came it tarnished the great job we had done of retaining the Ashes in just 14 days and Ian Bell's superb batting. That is what we should have been talking about, not tape on a cricket bat.

"I think we managed it well. We dealt with it and did not let it impact on us in a negative way. We used it as motivation to prove people wrong and to continue playing good cricket. That is all you can do, play cricket, work hard and win matches."

The fifth – and final – Test will get underway at The Oval in London on Wednesday.

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