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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 September, 2004, 14:20 GMT 15:20 UK
Prior to fill opener role
Matt Prior
I like to bat positively
Matt Prior
Sussex's Matt Prior is set to open the batting in Zimbabwe on his first tour with the senior England side.

Prior has gone in first for his county in one-day games this summer, scoring 641 runs at an average of 40 in Totesport League Division Two.

He will deputise for Marcus Trescothick, who is being rested for the tour.

"I'm absolutely delighted. It's a dream come true to have an opportunity to represent my country," said Prior.

"All [chairman of selectors] David Graveney said to me was "We're looking for you to go as an opening batter and to dive around in the field' which I really enjoy."

Asked whether he had any moral qualms about going to Zimbabwe following Steve Harmison's refusal to tour, Prior told BBC Sport: "I play cricket - that's what I do.

"I'm not a politician. I don't want to get into the political situation."

Prior will also understudy wicket-keeper Geraint Jones, having worked closely last winter with Academy coach Rod Marsh, who kept in in 96 Tests for Australia.

He will be joined in the squad by Nottinghamshire's Kevin Pietersen, a prolific scorer in county cricket and the star of the England A tour to India last winter.

Kevin Pietersen
Pietersen has long been talked of as a future England player

It is an early reward for Pietersen, who left his native South Africa to commit himself to English cricket.

"I'm absolutely thrilled to bits," said Pietersen, who heard the news while holidaying in Majorca.

"If someone had told me four years ago that I'd jump into the first squad after qualifying for England I'd have said 'Yeah, good one'."

He will fill the gap left by the England management team's decision to give all-rounder Andrew Flintoff a break ahead of the tour to South Africa which follows.

"I use the same equipment as him, so that's a start. But those are pretty big boots to fill," Pietersen told BBC Sport.

Pietersen took the same line as Prior over the political implications of the tour.

"My job is cricket. England and Zimbabwe are two places that play international cricket and we are going there.

"It's not my business to discuss politics."

England will play two warm-up games in Namibia before travelling on to Harare, where the first one-day international takes place on 26 November.

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