It should not be forgotten that Matt Prior’s highest England Test score came when batting at number six in the 2008/09 home series with the West Indies and there is certainly a case that he should be promoted back up the order for the Ashes later this year.
Prior was England’s top scorer across the three Tests in New Zealand and his unbeaten 110 to save the final game in Auckland ensured that an out-played England managed to avoid defeat.
His runs should give selectors food for thought ahead of the Ashes, especially given the struggles of England’s bowlers to take 20 wickets against New Zealand.
By pushing Prior up from seven to six, this would allow England to squeeze in a bowling all-rounder, which would assist in this regard.
Steven Finn has showed in the series that he is no mug with the bat, Graeme Swann is certainly capable of quick-fire 20s and 30s at the death, while Stuart Broad displayed in his partnership with Prior in Auckland that there are signs that his batting has taken a step back in the right direction.
Prior’s Test average batting at six or seven is virtually identical and so a shift in position should have no bearing on how well he plays.
In fact, it could be argued that he should be granted more time in the middle based on his displays in the New Zealand series.
Such a move may be harsh in the short term on Joe Root, who would almost certainly be the player dropped to make space for an extra bowler, but he has more than enough time ahead of him to make up for any disappointment.
England are 4/9 to win the Test series with Australia or 1/7 to simply retain the Ashes, which would also be achieved if the series was drawn.
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