Cricket - Prior has the edge

Matt Prior will begin England's momentous Ashes summer one up on his Test captain Alastair Cook, after winning the cricketer of the year award on Monday night.

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Matt Prior is the first wicketkeeper to win the the cricketer of the year award

Prior, who became the first wicketkeeper to win the annual accolade, beat last year's recipient James Anderson and Cook - who were both also short-listed. Cook, for all his prolific run-scoring and success as captain in two formats, has yet to win the award - a fact not lost on Prior.

The wicketkeeper will not be crowing about an honour of which he believes any one of several team-mates might have been equally deserving recipients. But he was not entirely averse either to joking at his captain's expense, saying: "Everyone congratulated me, except Cooky ... so maybe that says something!"

He added: "Jimmy Anderson's performance in India - for a seamer bowler to perform like he did was phenomenal - that's worth a player-of-the-year award.

"Then there's Cooky, the way he led from the front in India. There are a number of guys who have put in huge performances. They've obviously just pulled a name out of the hat! So I'm hugely honoured - but it could have been a number of guys."

Prior, whose year was capped by an heroic unbeaten century to help somehow draw the Auckland Test in March, is renowned as a selfless cricketer.

He explained what makes him tick when he takes to the field.

"Anytime I go out to play an innings, the first thing you think about is what you need to do to get into the best position to win or save a game," he added.

"It's 'what do I need to do to get the scoreboard in the right place', rather than 'how many runs do I need to average 50'. I just can't perform like that. I can't do it.

"There have been times in the past where people have said 'you need to look after that bit, or get more not-outs'. I'm not saying I'm the ultimate team player. It's just the way I play sport - to win. That's where I get the enjoyment from."

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