Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Prior praises 'rival' Bairstow

England wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior insists he is used to pressure and is not worried by the arrival of Yorkshire star Jonny Bairstow.

Prior is widely regarded as one of the best wicketkeeper-batsmen in Test cricket – averaging over 43 with the bat and providing a reliable presence behind the stumps.

Bairstow, 22, received his maiden Test call-up on Sunday and is expected to bat at number six in the first Test against West Indies at Lord’s, starting on Thursday.

The latest Cricket Odds have England as heavy favourites to win the series, which is seen as ideal preparation for younger, more inexperienced players ahead of a tough looking series with South Africa later in the summer.

Bairstow is a gloveman himself and kept wicket in England Lions’ comfortable victory over the tourists last week.

Bairstow is not expected to challenge Prior for his position in the immediate future, but has been touted as a long-term successor.

"If he smashes a double hundred and I get nought he'll probably become a rival pretty quickly," Prior joked with sport news reporters.

"He's a team-mate, obviously he's a wicketkeeper as well, but there are a number of wicketkeepers around the country and there always has been. Whether they're in the team or playing county cricket I know that I have to perform well to keep my place."

Rather than feel threatened by Bairstow, who was among the Betfair England Cricket Tips  to watch this summer the 30-year-old is excited to line-up alongside such a promising talent.

"It's always exciting when a player like Jonny comes through into the squad, he's settled in very well," added Prior.

"It's nice to form a relationship with another keeper because ultimately he's the only other bloke in the room that knows what it's like to be a keeper. It's hugely exciting for Jonny this week and if he does get selected to make his debut it will be a great feeling I'm sure."