Matt Prior 'uncomfortable' with being named England's player of the year

Matt Prior has been named England's player of the year but said he felt "uncomfortable" at being singled out as the team's top performer for 2012-13.

Prior's fine year included a match-saving performance for England against the Black Caps in Auckland in March to deny New Zealand a series victory on home soil, his unbeaten knock of 110 following four-and-a-half-hours at the crease securing an unlikely draw.

The wicketkeeper, who will play his 11th Test at Lord's this week, the first of the two-Test series against New Zealand, averaged 71 across the series in India and New Zealand but claimed England's success over the last year has been a collective effort.

"It's a huge honour to be singled out as the player of the year but I feel slightly uncomfortable about it because the individual accolades aren't why I play," said Prior, who becomes the first wicketkeeper to win the award. "I play to win and get much more out of the group winning a Test match or a series. Now it's back to the drawing board, the first Test starts on Thursday and it starts all over again.

"Any time I go out to play an innings the first thought is 'OK, where do we need to be to be in the best position to win a game and what do I need to do to get the scoreboard in the right place?' rather than 'how many runs do I need to average 50?' Even when I was young I played to win, that's where I've got the enjoyment from."

On his performance in Auckland, Prior added: "I got a huge amount of plaudits simply because I was there at the end. Ian Bell played an unbelievable innings that day; to face almost 300 balls and take so much time out of the game. Stuart Broad – I've never seen Broady play that long without getting off the mark or playing a shot in anger.

"You look back on the year and you sit in that dressing room and look at the amount of quality. Jimmy Anderson's performance in India, for a seam bowler to go over there and perform like he did was phenomenal. [Alastair] Cooky – to lead from the front as he did in India. I'm hugely honoured to have won it but there could have been a number of guys picking up the award."

Katherine Brunt won the women's award for a third time after taking 12 wickets in England's ICC Women's World Cup campaign in India, while Ben Foakes was named development programme player of the year.

England play New Zealand at Lord's this week and at Headingley beginning next Friday. Ian Bell, who hopes to be promoted to No4 in the batting order in the absence of Kevin Pietersen, insisted the side did not underestimate New Zealand during the series draw earlier this year.

He said: "We planned for New Zealand as well as we planned for the Ashes so I think credit to New Zealand and how they played. I thought [Brendon] McCullum captained very well and the bowlers bowled to a plan."

Powered by article was written by James Riach, for on Monday 13th May 2013 21.00 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


image: © JJ Hall