Cricket: Australia's dramatic meltdown in India will not distract England as they prepare for their second Test against New Zealand, Matt Prior insisted today.
The England keeper revealed that Alastair Cook’s tourists are not dwelling on the events in Mohali, where the Aussies are trailing their hosts 2-0.
If that were not enough, the quartet of opener Shane Watson, batsman Usman Khawaja and pace bowlers James Pattinson and Mitchell Johnson have been disciplined for ignoring team orders — and with an Ashes series looming this summer, England’s players can hardly avoid taking a keen interest in Australia’s troubles.
But Prior insisted that he and his team-mates were more interested in their own second match of three, which begins in Wellington tomorrow night.
He said: “We focus completely on what we’ve got to do here. We’ve got a big game coming up and it is one of those things that’ll make us start the Test match badly — focusing on something else that isn’t relevant to what we want to do or want to concentrate on.”
England are wary of another sticky start after being bowled out for just 167 in their first innings at the University Oval in Dunedin.
“We’ll just prepare as well as the England team can prepare and leave the rest to worry about their own stuff,” Prior added.
Last summer, the team hit the headlines for the wrong reasons as Kevin Pietersen was involved in a stand-off against his employers.
Prior himself played a part in resolving the situation with a reassuring phone call to the mercurial batsman, but insists that the saga was in the past.
“The Kevin Pietersen perspective is long gone,” he said. “We have moved forward from that. We’re in a very good place and looking forward to this Test match.”
Yet while the Pietersen controversy may be done and dusted, the Watson saga seems to be just beginning as the player flew home with his Test future in doubt.
He, Pattinson, Johnson and Khawaja were all suspended for one match after failing to deliver a presentation, as instructed by coach Mickey Arthur, on the way forward following defeats in the first two Tests of their current tour.
Watson subsequently flew home to Australia to be with his pregnant wife and admitted he was “weighing up his future” at Test level.
He told reporters today: “This will give me a time to be able to reflect on what’s happened over the last couple of days, to absorb what’s happened and have a think about where things are at.
“I absolutely love playing cricket, I love nothing more than having the opportunity and privilege to be able to represent my country.”
Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was adamant that the sanction was just. “I think it’s the toughest punishment you can have, to miss a game for Australia — let alone a Test match,” Clarke said.
“It doesn’t get any tougher than that in my opinion. I don’t think we’ll have another incident like this.”
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