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Page last updated at 20:52 GMT, Friday, 7 August 2009 21:52 UK

Prior calls for England recovery

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England can still win - Prior

England's Matt Prior called on his team-mates to bounce back from a dismal display on day one of the fourth Test.

England were bowled out for 102 and Australia reached 196-4 at Headingley.

"We've not had a good day but it's one day of five," said Prior, who had a late fitness test after hurting his back in the pre-match warm-ups.

"We didn't bat or bowl well but how we react in the morning will be key. We've got to take it on the chin, dust ourselves down and come back tomorrow."

It was a timely display by the tourists who went into the match knowing that a defeat would see England regain the Ashes, while a win for themselves would tilt the series their way going into the final Test at The Oval.

On a wicket that rewarded high-class pace bowling, with swing, seam and some decent bounce in it, England - playing five batsmen in addition to wicketkeeper Prior after Andrew Flintoff was ruled out - opted to bat first.

But they were blown away in 34 overs as Australia's all-seam attack, featuring Stuart Clark for the first time this series, produced their best performance of the summer by a distance.

Asked whether it was good Australian bowling or poor English batting that lay behind the collapse, Prior said it was "a bit of both".

Tom Fordyce blog

"There was a bit in the wicket, but there were probably some weak shots as well," he said after top-scoring with an unbeaten 34 despite struggling with the back spasm that almost ruled him out of the match.

"We've had a poor day, but if we put the ball in the right areas on day two we can get the wickets we need.

"It's quite a weird surface, it's almost fluffy. It's two-paced and there is some tennis ball bounce, but the ball has moved consistently throughout the day. For batting, it keeps it interesting."

The day started badly for the England players after they were forced to stand outside their Leeds hotel for more than half an hour following a 0445 BST fire alarm.

Wicketkeeper Prior then suffered a back spasm at 1000 BST shortly after the England players finished their football warm up and to make matters worse, England masseur Mark Saxby was struck on the head by a ball during Australia's catching practice.

Reflecting on his freak injury, Prior revealed it had been "really touch and go" over whether he would participate in the match.

"I had a bit of a shocker," he stated. "I've absolutely no idea how or why it happened, I was jogging along and suddenly had a back spasm. It was a tricky situation.

The swing is always going to be there with the humidity. If that's around it will still swing throughout this Test match

Australia's Peter Siddle

"The toss was pushed back 10 minutes and thanks to the Aussies for letting that happen. Ten minutes isn't a great deal to ask, but it was great they allowed it.

"The keeping was harder [than batting] but I should be fine. The good thing about a back spasm is that it can only get better. I will have a lot of massages this evening and carry on with the drugs this evening and I should be fine tomorrow morning."

Prior also refused to blame England's poor early performance and batting collapse on the bizarre pre-match events.

"There were a number of things that you could say were distracting but that's no excuse," he said.

"We've all played enough cricket and we're all big enough and experienced enough to be able to adapt to things, put things behind us and get on with the job.

"Anyone would be slightly miffed standing around at five in the morning in the rain with no shoes on.

"It was a few grumpy people moaning they had been woken up early."

Peter Siddle, who took a Test-best 5-21 for the Aussies, said: "It was probably one of those tosses that you probably don't want to win. We looked after our captain well and bowled superbly as a group.

"I have been disappointed with the way I have bowled in the first few Tests. I was trying my best and was lucky enough to get some good rhythm and it was successful.

"I felt a bit more comfortable today, a bit more consistent with my lines and back to where I bowl my best. It's pleasing."

He said he expected conditions would continue to favour bowlers throughout the match, something that would prove a problem for England in their attempts to produce the big second-innings score they need to have any hope of avoiding defeat.

"The swing is always going to be there with the humidity," added Siddle. "If that's around it will still swing throughout this Test match."



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see also
Australia on top as England slump
07 Aug 09 |  Australia
Jonathan Agnew column
07 Aug 09 |  England
England v Australia day one photos
07 Aug 09 |  Cricket
Flintoff ruled out of fourth Test
07 Aug 09 |  England
Ponting plays down crowd antics
06 Aug 09 |  Australia
Classic Ashes clashes: Headingley
04 Aug 09 |  England
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket
Australia in England 2009
20 Sep 09 |  England


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