Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Alastair Cook is England's greatest ever cricketer: Matt Prior

Leading man: Matt Prior has hailed skipper Alastair Cook

Matt Prior is unequivocally reassured to have Alastair Cook – destined to be "probably the greatest England cricketer" – in charge for the critical third Ashes Test at the WACA.

Cook will win his 100th Test cap in the early hours, as will his opposite number Michael Clarke, in a match the two chief protagonists could hardly be approaching in more contrasting circumstances.

England have been hammered in the first two Tests and therefore, against general expectations after their 3-0 Ashes victory at home last summer, are in danger of losing the urn outright before Christmas.

Clarke has made a hundred in Brisbane and then Adelaide too, and at both venues Mitchell Johnson's fast bowling has embarrassed England's batsmen.

Wicketkeeper Prior, however, has seen enough of Cook – as batsman and captain – to know England could not have a better man to lead them out of this tightest of corners.

At a ground where England have won just one Test, and that 35 years ago, they must withstand the might of Johnson in conditions tailor-made for his talents.

They will be looking to Cook to set the example, and Prior has no doubts his captain is made of the right stuff.

"I don't know the records he is about to break, but there are going to be a few of them," he said of the 28-year-old opener, England's most prolific all-time centurion.

"Playing his 100th Test, he's only just turned 20 or something!

"He will be probably the greatest England cricketer. In my mind, there is no doubt about that – and from a leader point of view, there is no other man I'd want taking us on to the field."

Cook has all the qualities vice-captain Prior wants in a Test leader, and he is confident in his ability to dig out a telling performance when it matters most.

"He leads from the front and leads by example, and I expect he will do exactly that in this game," he said.

"A massive congrats to him for playing 100 games – incredible."

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