We prepared for a battle – Prior

Matt Prior believes England’s coolness under pressure at Trent Bridge proves Australia were never going to be underestimated.

England held their nerve in a thrilling finish to the first Investec Ashes Test on Sunday, triumphing by 14 runs when James Anderson broke a defiant 65-run partnership between Australia’s final pair – Brad Haddin and James Pattinson.

While certain pundits wrote off the tourists ahead of this summer’s five-Test rubber, Prior and his team-mates always knew they were in for a battle.

England’s wicketkeeper-batsman was keen to emphasise that point when he addressed the media this afternoon ahead of the second Investec Test at Lord’s, which starts on Thursday.

“It was always going to be (a tight series) and that’s what we have prepared ourselves for,” Prior said.

“I think that’s one of the reasons we dealt with the situation so well and dealt with the game so well. We stayed calm and that was a lot to do with our preparation and what we expected.

“The Australians are fighters; they’re not going to lie down and die at any stage and we had to fight equally as hard, if not harder, to get ourselves in position to win the game and then go that one step further and actually win it.

“It’s going to be exactly the same this week and we’re steeling ourselves for that.”

Prior feels England will benefit greatly from having made it over the line in such dramatic fashion.

“It gives you a huge amount of confidence,” he added.

“It doesn’t matter how many games you’ve played or how long you’ve been playing, a situation like that affects people in different ways and you don’t quite know how you’re going to go until you’re in that position.

“The way we handled ourselves and the way Cookie (skipper Alastair Cook) dealt with the pressure was phenomenal. The whole team going in at lunch – the environment was still full of belief, full of confidence but as much as anything it was very calm and that’s what you need in those situations so we take a huge amount from that.”

Prior reserved special praise for the efforts of 10-wicket hero James Anderson, whose 13-over spell on the fifth morning is likely to go down in Ashes folklore.

“No one’s going to take a backward step in this Test series. You know that you’re fighting for five days and that asks a lot physically and mentally,” Prior explained.

“To get a 10-for in an Ashes Test match or any Test match is a great effort, but more special in that situation.

“It’s not just the physicality of bowling those 13 overs. When you’re under that extreme pressure and that stress it feels physically harder as well. For him to produce what he did was pretty special.”

Prior has been short of runs himself so far this Test summer, but is confident he has plenty more in him – especially after his most recent contribution.

“I felt in great rhythm, felt in good form.”I probably couldn’t get a better 31 than I did the other day,” he said.

“You get a feeling it’s going to be your day and I felt it was going to be my day.

“To toe-end two deliveries straight to blokes is slightly unfortunate, but that’s the way the game goes.”

And the Sussex man insists he is far from the only member of Andy Flower’s side who has room for improvement – a potentially daunting prospect for the tourists.

He added: “I think we can improve in a number of areas and that’s not a negative thing at all.

“To play not as well as you can and still win the Test match shows a huge amount. If we can really hit our straps well with bat and ball, we will be a pretty tough team to beat.”

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