Cow Corner

Honesty the first step for ‘disrespectful and unprofessional’ England

Cow Corner

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It all began to make some sense. As Matt Prior described the deep-seated lack of respect and professionalism amongst the England ranks, everything became just a little clearer.

The England wicketkeeper used his regular column in the Daily Telegraph to open up about the shortcomings of the tourists and how the culture of the team slowly disintegrated.

Very alarmingly, but perhaps not entirely surprisingly, he admitted that England's problems all came down to a fundamental loss of respect for the captain and coach.

It really was a damning assessment, but clearly an accurate and appropriate one. For England are only in the opening chapter of a shambolic unravelling that could take in much of this year.

While acknowledging that Australia had played excellently to secure a 5-0 whitewash and regain the urn, the wicketkeeper revealed that standards slipped in the England dressing room to such an extent that the environment was barely recognisable.

"It all goes back to the dressing room and making sure that environment is right and on this tour, I think we let it slip a bit," he wrote in his column for the Daily Telegraph.

"We talk about one per centers, the little things that can make a big difference when added up. It is always those that go first and we were not quick enough to realise that.

"We let a few things slide. They appear trivial issues to those on the outside but they are important when building a team environment.

"Little things like wearing the right kit, turning up to meetings on time, not five minutes late. It is about the respect you have for your team-mates, coach and captain," he added.

"In any team, you have to have strong values and beliefs and we need to start again and rediscover those before we can move forward."

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Prior was adamant that this frank acknowledgement of the problems which existed - and perhaps still exist - within the England ranks did not come from bitterness or resentment at him being dropped on the tour.

Equally, he was clear that he was not blaming any particular individual, as every player has to with the elephant in the room in every interview being Kevin Pietersen, of course.

"To clarify, I am not talking about particular individuals, I am talking about us letting a few things slide as a whole group," he wrote.

Perhaps the most important thing noted by Prior was that he did not believe that other players were, even now, being brutally honest with themselves - as was required.

The first step in progressing forward for England now has to be honest self-assessment. It is all very well for men in suits to carry out a review and produce a leather-bound document, but it is the players and staff who have to learn lessons and move on.

Prior, whose international career is very much in the balance after having been a much-appreciated vice-captain, was voted England's Cricketer of the Year for 2012-13 yet has seen his cricket world come crashing down around him.

He at least has taken the initiative of demanding better of himself and of the team; far from airing dirty laundry, he has shown the public that the players really care and really hurt.

There will be other players within the England camp who are keen to simply move on without looking back, but for Prior that simply isn't an option. If honesty was his first step, getting back in the runs and producing on the field is his next one.

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By Dan Quarrell - @Dan_Eurosport

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