Rival`s advice helps Prior to revitalise game

London: England`s wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior revealed on Tuesday how a few words of advice over a game of golf from rival keeper Brendon McCullum improved and revitalised his game.

Prior, 28, remains England`s first-choice keeper in Test cricket and will play against Pakistan in the first Test on Thursday.

However, this year he lost his place in the 50-over and Twenty20 teams to Craig Kieswetter, which seemed to have a negative impact on his normally aggressive batting.

A successful Twenty20 cup in domestic cricket with Sussex in which he scored 443 runs, including an innings of 117, has perked up his game and confidence and he paid tribute to New Zealand`s batsman-keeper who was a team mate.

Prior`s anxieties stemming from his England woes meant he abandoned his natural instinctive game and stopped enjoying his batting. McCullum urged him to back his technique and to "free his mind".

"It was helpful that he likes golf because we tried to spend as much time on the golf course as possible," Prior told reporters at England`s training base in Loughborough. "While we played we chatted about our game, about keeping, batting, about putting the two together."

"He was quite shocked that, after I was left out of the England team, I was construed as a batter who just plays in Test cricket and who hangs in there and nicks and nudges. He told me as an opponent he has always seen me as an attacking boundary hitter. To hear that from one of your peers instantly gave me a bit of confidence."

"After that I was looking to attack bowlers again, looking to hit boundaries, and along with a few tactical changes that he helped me with, it all helped me hugely."

"When you work day in and day out with a coach who is watching your game, you listen to them, but you don`t always hear. But with someone that you play against from a different country you hear things from a different perspective."

Bureau Report