County cricketers have ‘very little ambition’ – Matt Prior
Former England wicketkeeper Matt Prior believes English players in county cricket take it easy and do not show enough ambition in attempting to play for their country.
County cricket has come under fire in recent weeks after England were comfortably defeated by Australia in the Ashes, with a number of former players and pundits pointing the finger at the domestic game.
However, Prior, who played his entire county career with Sussex, believes the blame should lie with many of the players themselves, whom he sees as coasting through their professional lives without showing any real desire to test their skills at the highest level.
“I think there are too many players earning their salaries, whatever they may be, floating around in county cricket having a nice life, with actually very little ambition to push on,” Prior told BBC Five Live.
Prior, who made 79 Test appearances for his country over an eight-year span, is concerned with current attitudes: “The worry for me is there’s a lot of cricketers playing county cricket who are not looking or ambitious enough to think, ‘Right, hang on a minute, I want to play cricket for England. I want to play and win a series in Australia.’
“This isn’t about winning a county championship or a domestic competition. This is about being the best you can be and going and winning a trophy for England or winning the Ashes or the World Cup.”
England appeared lost without Ben Stokes in the Ashes, while Moeen Ali struggled on his first tour as the lack of variety in the tourist’s bowling attack came to light, with seemingly few options available to step up from the county game.
Even though much of the blame rests with the players in Prior’s opinion, he also stated that it is up to the counties to inspire them to bigger and better things. “There is a huge responsibility on the counties to create that level of ambition from English cricketers,” he said.
Prior has not been afraid to voice his opinion on Sussex’s struggles in recent seasons, even offering his assistance, but the former glovesman believes the recent appointment of Jason Gillespie as head coach is “a very good start to the club moving forward”.
Matt Prior should be listened to. He knows both County and International cricket intimately and has no particular ax to grind.
My own view is that English domestic cricket is due for overhaul:
▪️The ECB T20 franchise should be supported in principle.
▪️County cricket should primarily be seen as a nursery for the development of England Test/ODI players.
▪️Ideally the counties should concentrate on red ball and 50 overs games.
▪️The number of First Class (fully professional) Counties should be reduced to eight (maximum ten).
▪️The Minor Counties should be augmented by the ten/eight counties that don’t make the First Class cut.
▪️The First Class Counties should play a meaningful red ball Championship (home and away fixtures).
▪️The First Class Counties should play a high profile 50 over competition with QF, SF, Final. QF and SF home/away. Final at Lord’s.