Matt Prior celebrated the birth of his first child last week with a career-best,second Test hundred for England against West Indies in the fifth and final Test at Queen’s Park Oval.
Prior had missed the fourth Test at Bridgetown,when he returned to Britain to be with his wife Emily,following the birth of his son Jonathan two Sundays ago.
Having flown back three days before the Test after making sure that mother and baby were doing just fine,he was forced to jump right back into the thick of things,when England slid to 268 for four inside the first half hour on the second day of the match.
Prior’s response was typically forthright,and when he soldiered off nearly five and a half hours later,he was undefeated on 131 and England were in a much safer place,having declared their first innings on 546 for six.
“I’m not going to lie,it’s been pretty amazing,” he told reporters.
“Any father knows that the birth of your first child is fantastic,and it was a great feeling,and I was really happy that I was able to go back for that week and spend it with my family.
“But coming back here,I had to get back into the groove pretty quickly and get on with the job,so it’s very satisfying.
“Getting a century for England is a great feeling any day whether you’ve been away for the last week or not. To come back and get a hundred is a fantastic feeling.”
His decision to fly back had been questioned in some quarters,but Prior disclosed that he had the full backing of all the important people.
“It wasn’t a decision I took lightly by any means,” he said. “I spent a lot of time thinking it over and speaking to people who I thought were the right ones to speak to.
“My family had a say,but also my team-mates and I was hugely backed by all of them and most of them were telling me to go home.
“When you are backed by your team-mates,it makes it a lot easier,and coming back you have to perform and thankfully that’s what I did.”
Prior could not have hoped for a better time to return to the tour,with another featherbed rolled out,and a West Indies attack depleted by the loss of strike bowler Jerome Taylor with a bad ankle and a sore hip,he had little about which to worry once Fidel Edwards had completed a fine opening burst with the second new ball.
“It’s a good pitch,” he said. “It looks a lot drier than the other pitches which haven’t broken up as much,so hopefully it will break up a bit more and the spinners can come into play along with some reverse swing.
“Swanny has been a big part of this trip so far and it was great to see Monty getting a wicket and seeing that bounce again. I think they will play a huge role,but reverse swing will also be key.”
At times,Prior might have felt the game was meandering as he and Paul Collingwood compile a record 218 for the fifth wicket in Tests between the two sides,as West Indies appeared to go negative.
He and the rest of the England side are hoping that West Indies continue to play that way which would allow the visitors to sneak a series-levelling victory from their hosts.
“I think they are obviously playing for a draw,and the way they bowled and the fields they set was all very defensive,” he said.
“But you know when you play for the draw it can come back and bite you if you become negative and start hanging on for the game.”
West Indies captain Chris Gayle did not seem to be playing for a draw. He raced to 49 not out to guide West Indies to 92 for one at the close to set things up for a thrilling third day.