London: England wicketkeeper Matt Prior hopes the feelgood factor from his Ashes triumph over Australia will help Sussex in Saturday’s Friends Provident Trophy final against Hampshire.
While Andrew Flintoff took the headlines after bowling England to victory over the Australians in the second Ashes Test at Lord’s earlier this week, Prior quietly had one of his most influential games for his country.
The 27-year-old highlighted his class with a quick-fire 61, off just 42 balls, in the 115-run victory, so it is hardly surprisingly that Sussex captain Michael Yardy is relieved his wicketkeeper has been given clearance to feature in English county cricket’s showpiece one-day match ahead of next week’s third Ashes Test at Edgbaston.
“Having Matt available makes a big difference to us," Yardy said. “This is a guy that has played for Sussex since he was 12; he is Sussex through and through, cares deeply about the club, and someone we welcome back with open arms.
“When you look at him now - he’s always been a very talented striker of the ball - he could play for England as a batter. “He looks in such control. His innings against Australia at Lord’s was so clinical and precise.
“To score 60 off 40 balls in a Test match, without any change to your normal game, is incredible."
Sussex have used both Andrew Hodd and Ben Brown behind the stumps during a successful season in limited-overs cricket. But Prior’s inclusion will further enhance a side rich in runs in the latter stages of the tournament.
Meanwhile, Hampshire’s Dominic Cork admits his enthusiasm for cricket burns as brightly as ever at the age of 37. The former England all-rounder was released by Lancashire at the end of last season but was offered a two-year deal by the Hawks and has played a major part in them reaching their third Friends Provident final in five years.
Cork has taken 17 wickets in nine matches in the competition and would have gained immense satisfaction in helping Hampshire win the semi-final against his former county at Old Trafford.
Now he is looking to use his experience to help Hampshire’s crop of promising players such as Jimmy Adams, Michael Lumb, Michael Carberry and Sean Ervine to go on and achieve even greater success.
Cork said: “I came to Lancashire and went to Lord’s. I was at Derby and went to Lord’s. Now in my first year at Hampshire, we’ve got a Lord’s final.
“I came out on the wrong end against Sussex with Lancashire in the 2006 final and I am looking forward to going back with Hampshire and winning it.
“There is a lot of rivalry, probably similar to Yorkshire and Lancashire rivalry, between two South Coast clubs. “We play hard cricket and we’ve played each other a few times this season and it’s been basically honours even."