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The Ashes: Axed Matt Prior determined to return to England side

Another veteran paid the price for England's tumultuous tour when Matt Prior was axed from Thursday's fourth Test against Australia in Melbourne.

Prior though admitted that his axeing was deserved, but has vowed to return to the side.


Matt Prior

A previous mainstay behind the stumps for England, the 32-year-old was, for the first time in the Andy Flower era, left out of the side.

Prior, ever-present in England's three consecutive Ashes series wins over Australia, made way for wicketkeeping understudy Jonny Bairstow in yet another changing of the guard.

He paid for a woeful series in Australia, averaging just 17.83 and twice missing key stumpings of David Warner in the third Perth Test when the Australia opener made a second innings century.

It now remains to be seen whether the Sussex man - who has seven Test hundreds to his name - will return.

Prior certainly hopes to add to his 75 caps and 3,920 runs but knows he has not been up to the mark over the past year.

"Disappointed to miss this test match but my form just hasn't been good enough. I'll be working hard as ever to make sure I'm back and performing at the level I expect of myself so I can contribute to the team effort once again," he said on Twitter.

"In the mean time I'll be doing my best to help in any small way I can so we can go home with some success and positives from this tour. Thanks to all those for continued support through tough, as well as the good, times!"

Bairstow, a bit-part player for England over the last two years, made just 10 before Mitchell Johnson cleaned him up at the MCG.

While expected, Prior's absence adds further change to a previously stable England dressing room. Jonathan Trott has already flown home and this week Graeme Swann retired.

"He's a world-class player, and has been a great one for us - the real heartbeat of the side, for a long time," batsman Ian Bell said of Prior.

Prior's sacking comes just four days after spinner Graeme Swann's shock retirement mid-series, indicating that all was not well inside the tourists' camp.

The Melbourne Test is the first time since August 2008 that England have gone into a Test without Jonathan Trott, Prior or Swann. Trott left the tour after the first Brisbane Test suffering from a stress-related illness.

England lost the Ashes to Australia after just 14 playing days and are now battling to stave off the home side's bid to carry off a 5-0 series clean sweep in the remaining Tests in Melbourne and Sydney.

It has been a chaotic time in the English camp since relinquishing the Ashes in Perth before Christmas.

Swann announced his shock retirement last Sunday from all forms of cricket following England's third straight heavy defeat to the Australians.

But the 34-year-old caused a stir with comments that were interpreted as being directed towards members of the England team.

"Some people playing the game at the minute have no idea how far up their own backsides they are," Swann said.

"It will bite them on the arse one day and when it does I hope they look back and are embarrassed about how they carry on."

Swann hastily denied he was referring to any of his current England teammates with his caustic comment. 

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