LONDON- England wicketkeeper Matt Prior has decided to take a break from international duty for the rest of the season after losing form due to a series of injuries.
Prior revealed his decision to step away from England action just hours after his country slumped to a 95-run defeat in the second Test against India at Lord's. The 32-year-old has had a torrid season behind the stumps and his rash dismissal, unwisely hooking Ishant Sharma, played a key role in England's second innings collapse.
He has dropped six catches of varying difficulty this season and with the bat he has averaged just 25. Prior attributes his poor form to injury complaints and he expects to go under the knife to sort out his Achilles during the break, while he also recovers from right quad and right hand problems. "I'm not doing justice to myself and more importantly the team and that is what matters first and foremost," Prior said.
"I tore my quad before the first Test and my right hand has been beaten to a pulp, but the main issue is the Achilles. "Now we have the time, I want to be pro-active about how we deal with it so I imagine that I'll have an operation. "I've always said as long as I can do my job I will manage the pain and get on with it, but it has now got to the point where I can't do my job to the level I expect of myself."
An emotional Prior is reported to have told his England team-mates of his decision in the Lord's dressing room following their defeat. He feels he has no choice but to have a spell out of the firing line, but is hopeful of regaining his fitness and challenge for his place next year. For now though he accepts that with 79 Test caps to his name he may have played his last game for England.
That is especially difficult to take as he was keen to play his role in rebuilding a team struggling badly after a miserable run of 10 consecutive Tests without a victory. "It is a huge decision and not one I've taken lightly obviously because I could have played my last game," Prior said. "Playing for England is the greatest honour you can have in the game and that is my motivation to come back and try and play again in the best possible condition.
"I've made my decision for the good of the team and whoever comes in I genuinely wish them the best of luck and hope they go well and perform and help the team win. That is all I want. If that happens and I don't play again, then that was my lot. I'll be disappointed because there are a few things that I wanted to achieve and thought I would, but I can also look back and know I did some pretty good things."
Jos Buttler is the leading candidate to replace Prior and he will learn if he has been given the nod on Tuesday when England name their squad for the third Test in Southampton.