Willis: Not the end for Prior
Bob Willis insists Matt Prior may not have played his last Test for England after announcing he was standing down from the remainder of the series against India.
Prior has been battling a number of injuries this season, including a torn quadricep muscle, and he has admitted he needs to take a break from all cricket to deal with an Achilles problem.
The Sussex wicketkeeper will not add to his 79 Test caps in the current series against India, and he faces a huge battle to regain his place for the three-Test tour of the West Indies following the World Cup.
"My reaction is one of great sadness," Willis told The Verdict on Sky Sports following England's disastrous defeat to India in the second Test at Lord's.
"Matt Prior has been a very fine servant to England. He's bounced back twice from being dropped from the side, he was the vice-captain really on the field and always encouraging the guys.
"He's got a terrific record as well. The likes of Alec Stewart and Alan Knott - great wicketkeeper-batsmen - didn't average as much as Prior.
"He made the most of his ability behind the stumps and scored vital runs for England down the order."
Jos Buttler is expected to replace Prior for the third Test in Southampton, starting on Sunday, but Willis feels England could need Prior's experience when they head for the Caribbean next April.
Willis added: "He's got to think positively. In his mind, all he's doing at the moment is counting himself out the next three Test matches.
"There's a long break before England play Test cricket again. As soon as the fifth Test as the Oval finishes, England will be focused on one-day cricket and Prior hasn't been involved in that side for a long while now.
"If things don't go well for England, they might want Prior in the West Indies. It's a short series over a very concentrated time and they might need him in that touring party."
Simon Jones saw his international career cut short in it's prime by injury, and the former England paceman knows the pain Prior will be feeling.
Jones said: "Matt is an outstanding cricketer. I played a lot with him in the past with England A, and the big thing for me is that he can hold his head high.
"He's played 79 Tests and averaged over 40, and he's done an incredible job for England. It's very sad that it's come to this. His body has given up on him and he can't do his job properly.
"It's the most frustrating feeling you can have, because you know what you can do on the field. For Matt to walk on that field and not be able to do his job properly, that's the worst feeling in the world.
"It kills you inside. You don't sleep at night because you're worried about the next day and how you are going to get up and perform. You're popping pain-killers all the time and it's a horrible place to be."
But former India captain Ravi Shastri believes Prior will be recalled to the Test side if he can regain full fitness during England's long break between Test matches.
"I think he will be back, he's only 32," Shastri said. "Look what Brad Haddin did for Australia in the Ashes series.
"He's got a break, he's not playing for a long time and it's a while before England tour the West Indies.
"Prior has always been very competitive and he has pride in his performance. He was very honest when he said he wasn't quitting, he's missing three Tests and he might play for Sussex at the end of the season.
"He's got a break, and if he recovers from injury, I believe he'll be back."