Prior perplexed by criticism

England

Wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior has questioned recent criticism of England – on the back of a considerably strong three-nil series lead over Australia.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior has questioned recent criticism of England – on the back of a considerably strong three-nil series lead over Australia.

Three-nil up on the back of a 14-run triumph at Trent Bridge, 347-run win at Lord's, rain-affected draw at Old Trafford and 74-run victory at Chester-le-Street, the hosts have endured some tough periods regardless.

The form of batsmen Jonny Bairstow, Alastair Cook and Joe Root has been outshone by that of perennial centurion Ian Bell and the right-handed Kevin Pietersen, while allegations of bat-tampering in order to hoodwink the Decision Review System have been rife.

Seamer James Anderson, meanwhile, hasn't been able to match the success of fellow right-armer Stuart Broad. Former Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne, too, has labelled Cook's captaincy as "cautious" and Prior's approach as "smug."

"We are in a great position going into this final Ashes Test but I have found it quite amazing that we are three-nil up in the series and have been subjected to a lot of criticism with suggestions we have been a little lucky," Prior told the <i>Daily Telegraph</i>.

"The only way you can look at this series is to admit that we have not played at our best but we have still won three Test matches and won them well. It is disappointing at times when you see the criticism but from our point of view I think we have handled it impeccably.

"All the rubbish spoken before the Durham Test galvanised the team. We spoke about it in the dressing room, flushed it out and then moved on. We simply said okay it is absolute rubbish but it is there, so use it and show people what we can do.

"I think that was a good moment for us and a good bit of management. There have been times when England cricket teams have ignored criticism and tried to brush it off. But you cannot ignore it. With Twitter these days it is suddenly on your phone and you cannot miss what is being said.

"The best way of going about it, and I have learned this as I have become more experienced, is to accept it and put it to bed. Ignoring it does not make it go away. It is still there and you waste energy worrying about it."

The fifth and final Test will get underway at The Oval in London on Wednesday – and will be followed by two Twenty20 Internationals and five ODIs.

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